Conclusion: Towards a new understanding of the history of opera?

Thomas Ertman

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    As this collection has demonstrated, an exciting process of convergence is under way in the world of opera studies. The attention generated by the “critical” approach to opera, with its desire to read contemporary meanings into canonical works, has obscured the fact that many opera scholars who stand outside of this paradigm, be they musicologists, literary theorists, historians, or sociologists, are currently engaged in a common project: namely the reconstruction “ based often on painstaking archival research “ of the conditions of operatic production, reception, and social instrumentalization during different periods of the genre's four centuries of existence. It is this project that represents the common denominator between those following a “systems of meaning” and those employing a “conditions of production” approach and one that, as Victoria Johnson has shown in her introduction, was made possible by the historical “turn” within the humanities and social sciences over the last two decades. As Craig Calhoun, Herbert Lindenberger, and Jane Fulcher have all argued in this volume, a close elective affinity exists between this recent research within opera studies and the theories of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. In her contributions here, Fulcher has illustrated one way in which this often difficult body of writings can be put to use in understanding opera. She argues that Bourdieu's idea of a struggle among elites as well as between elites and non-elites over symbolic legitimacy and domination allows for a more complex understanding of the relationship between state power and ideology and art works produced under various forms of state sponsorship.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationOpera and Society in Italy and France from Monteverdi to Bourdieu
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages13
    ISBN (Electronic)9780511481734
    ISBN (Print)0521856752, 9780521856751
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Arts and Humanities


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