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Opera and Video

Technology and Spectatorship

Edited By Héctor Pérez

The contributions in this volume reflect the efforts of musicology to understand a hybrid area with a fascinating evolution. They aim to address the relationship between opera and audiovisual technology from its origins to today by offering the results of a balanced critical and innovative approach. The reader interested in opera, aesthetics, narrative or transmediality will find concrete approaches devoted to an unexplored diversity of aspects with an impact on the narrative conditions in which we watch opera on screen. The variety of perspectives shows how original methodological approaches are able to design a new map of the main transmedial problems of opera in TV, DVD and even in phonography. The book offers not only isolated theoretical contributions but seeks a connection of them with significant practice oriented approaches coming from the fields of video direction and composition.

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GAIA VARONOvertures on Screen 91

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Overtures on Screen GAIA VARON The overture of an opera – by which I mean any instrumental intro- duction – always has a somewhat ambiguous status: Is it part of the opera? Is it music meant for an attentive hearing, should we listen to it with a contemplative, aesthetic attitude? Or is its main function to call for attention and introduce something that has not started yet? When we sit in an opera house, we know full well what to expect: the conductor appears and lifts his baton; it is time to be silent and listen. The opera has begun. Music is in the foreground. We do not have to watch, although in some theatres and in certain seats we may be able and willing to watch the orchestra playing.1 But what happens when we sit in front of a screen? Should our mental behaviour as we listen to an overture correspond to the formal dress required for the theatre or the concert hall? Or is it legitimate to listen to it informally attired, maybe chatting with the person sitting next to us, as we normally do in cinemas during the film opening titles? A video production, whether on film or as a television broadcast or a DVD, by definition implies watching – the existence of some- thing to be watched – at all times. Normally, when we sit in front of a screen in a cinema or at home, and something begins, the first things we see are the opening credits, and most...

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