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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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Notes on Contributors


MARIA BIRBILI studied piano, voice and French literature at the Sorbonne IV in Paris, and musicology and theatre studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her PhD dissertation, Die Politisierung der Oper im 19. Jahrhundert [The Politicization of Opera in the 19th Century], has been published by Peter Lang, Frankfurt, 2014. Birbili has been a Fellow of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the DAAD in Italy and in Paris, a chercheur associé at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Chicago, and she is currently a collaborator in the Rossini, the Verdi and the Meyerbeer critical editions projects. She is working on her Habilitation with a second book on Rossini’s Italian operas and she is the editor of the critical edition of Rossini’s Le Siège de Corinthe. Her publications are predominantly on French and Italian opera of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

MARCIA J. CITRON is Lovett Distinguished Service Processor of Musicology at Rice University. She specializes in the intersection of opera and film and has published the books When opera meets film (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Opera on screen (Yale University Press, 2000). Another area, women in music, is capped by the award-winning study Gender and the musical canon 1993 (Cambridge University Press; reprint 2000, University of Illinois Press). In 2012 she was awarded a lifetime achievement award, Honorary Membership, by the American Musicological Society, where she has served on the Board of Directors and as...

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