UNIVERISTY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
27 - 28 FEBRUARY 2009
CALL FOR PAPERS
This conference highlights current research on the politics of French opera, from its beginnings under the Sun King through the middle years of Louis XV’s reign. Historians of music, literature, and the performing arts have long explored the absolutist politics of opera in France, especially in relation to the tragédies en musique of Quinault and Lully. Yet historians’ understanding of the ancien régime and its politics has shifted in recent years, with many questioning the earlier emphasis on the centralizing monarchical state and drawing attention to other aspects of French governmentality and political life. Cultural historians have likewise reconsidered the earlier focus on absolutist representation, recognizing the importance of other modes of French political culture, even in royal performances. At the same time, scholars have devoted more attention to comic opera, opera-ballet, and operatic parodies, which mediated the political perspectives of a wider social register.
In the early eighteenth century, French opera also became more cosmopolitan, as is clear from the popularity of operatic subjects, styles, and performers imported from Italy, the colonies, and other foreign locales. This cosmopolitanism begged the question of what precisely was “French” about French opera, a problem that became more urgent and more difficult to resolve as the century progressed. Philosophes, critics, and musical amateurs reflected extensively on such questions in the period’s many querelles, suggesting that part of opera’s attraction was as an occasion to imagine new forms of political community, in addition to its long-standing role in conserving the old.
Scheduled speakers include John Powell, Rose Pruiksma, Charles Dill, William Weber, Geoffrey Burgess, Olivia Bloechl, Raphaëlle Legrand, Downing Thomas, Don Fader, and Georgia Cowart.
Full description, program, and registration information are available at: