Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Operatic GeographiesThe Place of Opera and the Opera House$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Suzanne Aspden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226595962

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226596150.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

The Opera House as Urban Exhibition Space

The Opera House as Urban Exhibition Space

(p.213) Fifteen The Opera House as Urban Exhibition Space
Operatic Geographies

Klaus van den Berg

University of Chicago Press

The early twentieth-century critical theorist, Walter Benjamin, developed a pioneering analysis of buildings as constellations of historical forces and contemporary perceptions unfolded in space. Although Benjamin did not address opera directly, his ideas help us understand how opera has reshaped its cultural identity over the past half century. New opera-house projects need to create a visual scenography in order to establish opera’s urban cultural significance. This chapter addresses the site dramaturgy of three paradigmatic buildings and opera-house locations: New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Paris’ Bastille Opera, and Dallas’ Winspear Opera. Focusing on the insertion of opera buildings into these cities’ block structures, I argue that the buildings have become scenographic models of cultural identity. Unable to find a location in the existing block system, the Met (completed in 1966) became an exemplary urban renewal project, replacing an entire neighborhood. In contrast, the Bastille opera emerged in 1989 as one element of Francois Mitterand’s Grands Travaux. Finally, the Dallas Opera (2009) is located in the Dallas Arts District, one of the densest accumulations of architectural projects in the world, in which the opera is constructed as part of both an art exhibition and a movie set that travellers or audience members traverse.

Keywords:   Walter Benjamin, New York, Metropolitan Opera, Paris, Bastille Opera, Dallas, Winspear Opera, Norman Foster

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.