The Opera FanaticEthnography of an Obsession

The Opera FanaticEthnography of an Obsession

Claudio E. Benzecry

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226043401

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Though some dismiss opera as old-fashioned, it shows no sign of disappearing from the world's stage. So why do audiences continue to flock to it? Given its association with wealth, one might imagine that opera tickets function as a status symbol. But while a desire to hobnob with the upper crust might motivate the occasional operagoer, for hardcore fans the real answer, according to this book, is passion—they do it for love. The book looks at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera's globalization. Looking at the stories of the fans, the book tells of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera's power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on an analysis of these acts of love, the book proposes new ways of thinking about people's relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.