Freitag, 10. Juni 2022, 08:00 - 09:30 iCal

Arias on Video

Vortrag von Univ.-Prof. Dr. Emanuele Senici (University of Rome La Sapienza)

Hörsaal 16 (HS) im Hauptgebäude der Universität Wien
Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien


Today the consumption of opera performances takes place through video to an extent never witnessed before in the century-long history of audio-visual recordings of opera. The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated a reliance on video that had been already increasing at a steady pace at least since the final decade of the twentieth century. When spectators and scholars discuss operatic performances, however, they tend to side-line the mediation of video, even when – as is mostly the case – they have not witnessed these performances truly “live”, there in the theatre, but have rather seen them on the screen of a cinema, or a television set, or a computer, or a mobile phone.

This lecture discusses the impact of video on the consumption of opera performances by focusing on examples involving arias. Arias constitute a particularly complex challenge for video directors on account of their static nature: they dramatically slow down the time represented within the action and usually much reduce physical movement on stage. Audio-visual genres, however, tend to privilege a “realistic” handling of time and a steady flow of movement. What do directors of opera videos do when faced with this challenge? We will discuss a few particularly inventive answers to this question, drawn from videos released over the past couple of decades by directors such as Peter Sellars and Philippe Béziat.


Emanuele Senici holds a doctorate in musicology from Cornell University, taught at Oxford University for a decade, and since 2008 has been Professor of Music History at the University of Rome La Sapienza. His research centres on Italian opera of the long nineteenth century, on the theory and historiography of opera, especially issues of genre and gender, and on opera on video. His publications include “La clemenza di Tito” di Mozart: i primi trent’anni (1791-1821) (Brepols, 1997), Landscape and Gender in Italian Opera: The Alpine Virgin from Bellini to Puccini (Cambridge University Press, 2005), and Music in the Present Tense: Rossini’s Italian Operas in Their Time (University of Chicago Press, 2019).


Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft


Isolde Schmid-Reiter