Opera’s role in shaping Italian identity has long fascinated both critics and scholars. Whereas the romance of the Risorgimento once spurred analyses of how individual works and styles grew out of and fostered specifically “Italian” sensibilities and modes of address, more recently music and cultural historians have turned their attention to how opera has animated Italians’ social and cultural life in myriad different local contexts. Networking Operatic Italy examines how opera (was) networked across and beyond the Italian peninsula during the years immediately preceding and following the country’s unification in 1861. The book explores the trajectories opened up for the artform by new technologies of transportation and communication, such as the railway and the telegraph, as well as opera’s continuing dissemination through newspapers, wind bands, and moving human bodies. By attending to the operatic interplays that both old and new media encouraged on a transnational as well as national level, we may lay to rest (or substantially dismantle) hidebound notions of nineteenth-century Italian cultural life as parochial, aesthetically conservative, and balkanized into many isolated pockets of local dialect, aesthetic taste, and culture. On the contrary, this book argues that opera at midcentury articulated a “connective” sense of Italian experience, taking impetus from and reorienting the burgeoning global and technological consciousness of the period.
|Opera Lab: Explorations in History, Technology, and Performance