Opera's Orbit: Musical Drama and the Influence of Opera in Arcadian Rome

By Forment, Bruno | Notes, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Opera's Orbit: Musical Drama and the Influence of Opera in Arcadian Rome


Forment, Bruno, Notes


STAGE AND SCREEN Opera's Orbit: Musical Drama and the Influence of Opera in Arcadian Rome. By Stefanie Tcharos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. [xiv, 320 p. ISBN 9780521116657. $95.] Music examples, illustrations, bibliography, index.

Musical genres are thorny things. Repre - senting artifacts of the classifying imagination, generic designations defy categorization along clear-cut lines, let alone transhistorical definition. Witness the example of Joseph Haydn's early keyboard works, many of which were originally designated as divertimenti or partitas by their creator, but were soon renamed sonatas. Or consider the origins of Mozart's two-act serenata Il Re Pastore (1775) in a three-act dramma per musica (1751) by Pietro Meta - stasio. Of course, as Stefanie Tcharos acknowledges, "categorizations and genre titles were seminal and effective," if only within their own cultural context and "in spite of their inability to hold any real consistency, categorical protectionism, and enclosure" (p. 13). It is the modern scholar's task to come to grips with the "multiple manifestations of form and presentation" (p. 162) of each genre by redressing its social dimensions as performative event. Stefanie Tcharos boldly accepts this challenge in Opera's Orbit: Musical Drama and the Influence of Opera in Arcadian Rome, but whether she succeeds in her daunting quest remains to be seen.

Tcharos's work area is the lateseventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century Roman stage, which she does not understand as an "actual stage of a particular theater or a context in which a given composer's works were performed" (p. 1), nor as a "collection of discrete formal texts" (p. 2), but rather as a "metaphorical and symbolic" stage, and a "highly problematic" (p. 1) one at that. As she stresses throughout her opening chapter, "Enclosures, Crises, Polemics: Opera Production in 1690s Arcadian Rome" (pp. 20-45), opera lived an uncertain existence in the transitory decades at hand, now enjoying unrestricted freedom under such bons vivants as Alexander VIII, then facing outright proscription under Innocents XI and XII. But "despite the conventional wisdom which argues that the upheavals of papal policies regarding opera . . . were to the detriment of Roman theatrical life," Tcharos asserts that the "city's peculiar predicament and necessary pocketing of opera culture into various private corners had creative advantages," allowing "for a variety of opera models" and a "change from the more singular adherence to the institutionalized formulas that dominated Venice's theater scene" (p. 22). Opera's "sphere of influence" or "orbit" (the term is Mikhail Bakthin's) thus reached further than the actual dramma per musica; it also encompassed the three genres Tcharos turns to in the central chapters of her book: the oratorio, serenata, and cantata.

The first of these chapters, "Disrupting the Oratorio" (pp. 46-97), combines an interpretation of Arcangelo Spagna's Discorso intorno a gl'oratorii (1706) with discussions of Pietro Ottoboni's Il martirio di Sant'Eu - stachio (1690) and Alessandro Scarlatti's two Giuditta oratorios (1694 and 1697) to argue that the late-seventeenth-century Roman oratorio tended to be "resolutely 'anti-opera' in official function," while at the same time being "intimately bound with conceptions of the theatrical" (p. 46). Notwithstanding their mission to "erase all that opera signified morally and socially" (p. 46), various oratorios in fact incorporated theatrical features, including stage decorations and dance in the case of Sant'Eustachio. Unfortunately, Tcharos omits several aspects that could have helped her chart the inextricable ties between the Roman oratorio and opera with more historical depth and precision than happens to be the case. It is a mystery, for instance, why she ignores the long tradition of the mystery play and sacra rappresentazione, many examples of which-reports and drawings tell us-enacted martyrs' lives in equally "theatrical" and musical fashion as Ottoboni's Sant'Eustachio did. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Opera's Orbit: Musical Drama and the Influence of Opera in Arcadian Rome
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.