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Operatic GeographiesThe Place of Opera and the Opera House$
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Suzanne Aspden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226595962

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226596150.001.0001

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Open-Air Opera and Southern French Difference at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Open-Air Opera and Southern French Difference at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

(p.178) Thirteen Open-Air Opera and Southern French Difference at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Operatic Geographies

Katharine Ellis

University of Chicago Press

This study of opera within the French category of “open-air theatre” addresses the value-laden binarism of enclosed versus open theatrical spaces in belle-époque France, and analyses the forms of lyric theatre that were curated in open-air venues such as those at Orange, Arles, Béziers, Nîmes, Toulouse and the Roussillon. Much of the sense of operatic latinité in the Midi rested on the appropriation, for theatrical use, of monuments of classical antiquity symbolic of the Midi as an artistic crucible with which Paris in all its variety could not compete. These immense sites spawned the use of other outdoor venues in a phenomenon that was urban or semi-rural but rarely metropolitan. Through discussion of repertory, environmental authenticity, local performance traditions, regionalist and decentralist agendas, audiences, the link between acoustics and genre, and the fate of key works in Paris, this study illustrates how new works of open-air opera emerge as site-specific (e.g. Fauré’s Prométhée), while works of the standard operatic repertory, once transferred to open-air venues, are assimilated into a meridional latinité and/or a passionate localism (e.g. Bizet’s Carmen).

Keywords:   open-air opera, decentralisation, regionalism, latinité, environmental authenticity, classical antiquity, Midi, belle-époque France

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