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Opera, Exoticism and Visual Culture


Edited By Hyunseon Lee and Naomi D. Segal

As a uniquely hybrid form of artistic output, straddling music and theatre and high and popular culture, opera offers vast research possibilities not only in the field of music studies but also in the fields of media and cultural studies. Using the exotic legacy of the fin-de-siècle as its primary lens, this volume explores the shifting relationships between the multimedia genre of opera and the rapidly changing world of visual cultures. It also examines the changing aesthetics of opera in composition and performance and historical (dis)continuity, including the postcolonial era. The book comprises eleven interdisciplinary essays by scholars from eight countries, researching in music, theatre, literature, film and media studies, as well as a special contribution by opera director Sir Jonathan Miller. The book begins with an examination of operatic exoticism in various cultural contexts, such as French, Latin American and Arabic culture. The next sections focus on the most beloved figures in opera performance – Salome, Madame Butterfly and Aida – and performances of these operas through history. Further interpretations of the operas in film and new media are then considered. In the final section, Sir Jonathan Miller reflects on the ‘afterlife’ of opera.
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About the author


Hyunseon Lee is Privatdozent in Modern German Literature and Media Studies at Siegen University and Research Associate at the Centre for Film Studies, SOAS, University of London. She is also guest lecturer of Korean Studies at Tübingen University. Her publications include the monograph Metamorphosen der Madame Butterfly. Interkulturelle Liebschaften zwischen Literatur, Oper und Film (2015) and the co-edited volumes Mörderinnen (2013) and Akira Kurosawa und seine Zeit (2005). She has published various works on music theatre, film and media aesthetics, German literature and Korean culture. Her current research interests focus on the Cold War in cinema and literature (Korea/Germany), film and history.

Naomi Segal is Professorial Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of seventy-nine articles and fourteen books on comparative literature, cultural studies, gender, psychoanalysis and the body. Her monographs include Consensuality (2009), André Gide: Pederasty & Pedagogy (1998), The Adulteress’s Child (1992), Narcissus and Echo (1988) and The Unintended Reader (1986, 2010). She is currently retranslating Anzieu’s Le Moi-peau and has two more monographs at the planning stage. She is a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes académiques and a member of the Academia Europaea.

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