Please join us this Wednesday for the first session of this year’s Music History/Theory Workshop! This week marks a special session, as Claudio Vellutini and Trent Leipert present talks for the upcoming AMS conference in Pittsburgh. Because these are conference talks, there will be no pre-circulated readings this week. There will, however, be the usual delicious food and drink for your delectation!
The session will be held in Logan 801 (Terrace Seminar Room) from 4:30 to 6:00 PM on Wednesday, October 23.
Trent’s talk is titled “Luigi Nono, the Inhuman, and the Uncertain Interval of the Subject.” For the abstract, he directs you to the AMS conference program: http://www.ams-net.org/pittsburgh/abstracts.pdf
Claudio’s talk is titled “The Costs of Singing: Politics and Opera Discourse in Restoration Vienna,” with the following abstract:
In the aftermath of the uprising on 13 March 1848, Viennese music journals published a number of polemical articles associating Italian opera with the overthrown political regime of the Restoration. Although such an explicit connection was the result of the newly acquired freedom of speech, during the previous decades Italian opera had frequently been the target of Viennese critics claiming for stronger support of German music drama. Yet, while most studies on Viennese music criticism have discussed debates between the German and Italian factions as the site that set theoretical grounds for the aesthetics of German opera, the politicization of the Italian genre has not received equal attention.
In this paper I discuss the Viennese discourse on Italian opera in the aftermath of the Congress of Vienna, decoding the ways in which it intersected with the cultural policies of the Habsburg Court. I trace both the persistence of some critical tropes and the changing attitudes towards Italian works in contemporary debates as they move from focusing on performers around the years of the Congress to the more overtly political tones emerging during the 1820s. Financial issues are of primary importance in this context. The high cost of Italian opera seasons was lamented with increasing frequency in Viennese writings. Newly discovered archival sources show that such costs also constituted a recurrent concern of State administrators trying to prevent Italian impresarios from taking control of the Kärntnertortheater. Inner struggles among high Court officials, some of whom took sides in the public Italian-German debate, testify to growing frictions between competing conceptions of the Austrian Empire—one embracing its multinational character, the other leaning to its Germanic pedigree.
Reading administrative records in parallel with contemporary writings by critics and intellectuals unveils striking similarities in the ways Italian opera was discussed, manipulated, and resisted within and outside the Court. This body of texts complicates our understanding of the social implications of Viennese operatic discourse. Rather than establishing a divide between aristocracy and bourgeoisie, it cut across social strata more prominently than previously thought.