Opera’s second life: beyond the European context

International Conference, 12-14 June 2014, University of Sydney


The global nature of today’s opera world is as well established as its European ancestry. Originating in seventeenth-century Italy, opera quickly migrated to more distant lands as part of the European colonial project. Iconic figures such as Fitzcarraldo epitomize the passion with which this art form has been pursued at the farthest frontiers of European expansion. The aims of this conference are two-fold: (1) to explore the processes by which Western opera was disseminated and cultivated outside the main European centres; and (2) to examine offshoot traditions of opera from non-European countries. In doing so, we hope to interrogate and problematize notions of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ which still tacitly obtain in much discourse about opera, and to explore transnational operatic exchanges of all kinds.

Conference participants are invited to explore some of the following themes, although proposals on other topics are also welcomed:

• Operatic activities in colonial societies
• Opera and post-colonial identities
• Cultural boomerangs: outside influences on the European mainstream
• Homogenisation and diversity in global opera production today
• Fusions and fissions in contemporary opera composition
• Australian opera history
• Opera at Europe’s peripheries: from Iceland to Istanbul
• Opera touring companies: missionaries or multi-national outposts?
• The outsider’s take: reimagining early opera from beyond Europe

Keynote addresses will be given by Simon Williams (UC Santa Barbara) and Michael Halliwell (Sydney).

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to David Larkin (david.larkin@sydney.edu.au) by Wednesday 31 July 2013. Notices of acceptance from the program committee will be sent by the end of August. Those selected for the program will be asked for firm commitments to attend by February 2014. The program committee is comprised of Michael Halliwell (Sydney), David Larkin (Sydney), Michael Ewans (Newcastle, NSW), and Benjamin Walton (Cambridge).

The conference will take place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a faculty of the University of Sydney. Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, beside the Botanic Gardens and within a few minutes’ walk of Circular Quay and the city’s famous Opera House, the Conservatorium’s idyllic situation is matched by the calibre of its facilities.

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