Lisbon, 9-10 November 2012
CESEM | INET-MD
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Teatro Nacional de São Carlos
The main goal of this conference is to foster discussion on the century-old relationship between opera and film as a problem rather than as anodyne fact: in other words, to conceive of their intersection as an all too undetermined encounter that is anything but settled. Our initial hypothesis is that reflecting upon the aesthetic and political stakes of such an encounter, in its various forms (filmic, dramaturgical, discursive), may shed light on the contemporary coexistence of both art forms with respect to their roles, uses, modes of experience, and critical appropriation.
“Rising nobly over medieval torture chambers”, as the Paris Opera House is described at the beginning of the film The Phantom of the Opera (1925), opera has long been associated with elites, power, and domination, whereas film, from its origin as “attraction at the fair”, has been characterized as a popular art for the masses. However obvious this contrast might seem at first, a political questioning of the relationship between opera and film must go beyond this theoretical framework and dismiss the simplistic alternative between “ennobling film” and “popularizing opera”. Even though opera and film are both hybrid media and are often viewed in a historical continuum, it is critical to counter tendencies toward the “naturalization” of the relationship between these two art forms.
The ambiguous encounters of opera and film suggest a broad range of possible thematic points of departure: from the “silence” of DeMille’s Carmen to the "operaticness" of The Godfather or a certain "death of opera" in Fellini’s E la nave va; from the film interlude in Alban Berg’s Lulu to the contemporary invasion of screens in opera staging. Approaches drawing on theoretical tools from musicology, opera studies, film studies, cultural studies, philosophy, and sociology are all welcome.