Opera and the Culture of Fascism

Opera and the Culture of Fascism

Opera and the Culture of Fascism

Opera and the Culture of Fascism

Synopsis

Tambling draws on the insights of Adorno, Benjamin, Theweleit, Bataille, Kristeva, and others to read nineteenth- and early twentieth-century opera as part of a culture which produced fascism as a crisis-state, and threatened to extinguish the genre as an influential and contemporary form of high art. Examining over a dozen operas in detail, Tambling discovers an ideology with both reactionary and revolutionary potentials.

Excerpt

Many friends and colleagues have read all or part of this book in manuscript, and to name them reminds me of how much I have been helped: Ackbar Abbas, Hugh Chiverton, David Clarke, Peter Franklin, Jonathan Hall, Barry Millington, Nicholas Routley, Antony Tatlow, Jonathan White. None of these is necessarily implicated in anything I say. I am grateful to the many different students who during the 1980s and 1990s have listened to and discussed so much material that worked its way through to here: on Doctor Faustus and other texts of Mann, on Otello, and on Nietzsche, for instance. A conference on music and gender held in 1991 at King's College London was an important, if indirect, help. Lau Wai Wah helped materially in preparation of the manuscript. During two of the years of writing, Nicholas Routley persuaded me to take up opera direction, and our two productions in Hong Kong with him conducting, Orfeo ed Euridice and Norma, taught me much about opera. The publishers' readers who went through the book, and who remain anonymous, have also been more than helpful in their comments. I would like to thank Bruce Phillips, Helen Foster, and Janet Moth of Oxford University Press, who have made the move from script to print possible and painless.

This book was produced in London and Hong Kong. It was researched and written partly in the work conditions of Hong Kong, which provided excellent back-up facilities, and partly in London, where Pauline made research and writing a possibility and a pleasure by her own wonderful interest and commitment to opera and its social and political contexts.

I have quoted everything in English, apart from opera libretti, for which I have given translations. Citations of texts appear first in the footnotes, then are carried as tactfully as possible in the body of the text. A bibliography appears at the end.

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