Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

1 Scopus citations


Opera is delightfully contradictory. I don't mean simply that it is endlessly productive of arguments, though that is true. Opera fans debate favorite performances, praise or decry new productions in extravagant terms, and ally themselves passionately with Mozart or Verdi. Opera companies are equally ripe with controversy, dubious over conductors who seek too much authority, contentious about roles and repertory. Opera critics delight in provoking clashes over whether celebrity singers are past their prime, whether theatrical spectacle has triumphed regrettably over music, and whether restaging old favorites is driving out innovation. All these and other arguments are simply evidence that opera commands the passions of its varied participants. In the language of Pierre Bourdieu, it is a field of serious play to which they are committed. The controversies reflect artistic taste, but also relationships of art to audience, to money, and to social organization. And herein lie some contradictions that shape the field of opera as a field of careers and companies, not only compositions and performances; and a field embedded in several changing contexts as far beyond the opera hall as nationalist politics and globalization, changing media and class structure, and shifting structures of patronage. This book reflects the interest of opera as a social phenomenon. This is an interest that extends beyond aesthetic evaluations and the engagements of fans, critics, or performers. But social studies of culture need not ignore aesthetics and can contribute to the understanding of fans, critics, and performers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOpera and Society in Italy and France from Monteverdi to Bourdieu
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780511481734
ISBN (Print)0521856752, 9780521856751
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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