Session/Séance 7h: MusCan Panel 2 Saturday/samedi 27 May 2017. 9:00AM - 10:30AM, EJB 225.
Politicized Music: Resistance, Patriotism, Propaganda
Chair: SARAH GUTSCHE-MILLER (University of Toronto)
1. Integration and Resistance in Nicola Porpora’s Early drammi per musica
Zoey M. Cochran, McGill University
Analyses of the political role of the early eighteenth-century dramma per musica consider it to be an expression of the ideology of absolute rulers (Feldman, 2007; Strohm, 1997). However, these studies do not account for the tensions that arise in the context of foreign rule. In the Kingdom of Naples, for example, many inhabitants conspired against their Austrian rulers and hoped for independence. Through the case studies of Nicola Porpora’s first two operas, Agrippina (1708) and Flavio Anicio Olibrio (1711), I argue that taking into account this context of contested foreign rule can transform our understanding of the political role of the genre. At first glance, both operas appear to conform to the ruling ideology: they bear dedications to representatives of the Austrian Holy Roman Empire, stage Ancient Roman subjects, and end with the crowning of the Roman hero. Nevertheless, ambivalence and ambiguity abound in their libretti and music. In Agrippina, one can find subtle references to the invasion of Naples and the hero Germanicus (representing Austrian rule) gradually fades from the opera. In Flavio Anicio Olibrio, Olibrio fights Ricimero, king of the Goths and foreign ruler of Rome, raising the question of the ambiguous identification between Austrians and Romans and Austrians and the Germanic invaders of Rome (both past and present). Far from a direct expression of the ruling ideology, Porpora’s drammi per musica present a constant negotiation between identification with the foreign rulers and differentiation from them, between integration and resistance.
2. “Les muses du people”: Amiati, Bordas, and the chanson patriotique after the Franco-Prussian War
Kathleen Hulley, McGill University and Kimberly White, Université de Montréal
After France’s defeat at the Battle of Sedan and the outbreak of the Commune, two café-concert stars rose to prominence with their stirring renditions of La Marseillaise and other chansons patriotiques: Rosa Bordas (1840– 1901), dressed as a Revolutionary heroine, and Amiati (1851–1889), wrapped in the Tricolor. For a public marked by humiliation and the trauma of war, Amiati and Bordas’s patriotic singing provided a collective catharsis. At one level, the women functioned as “symbols of timeless national virtue” (Kramer, 2011), their performances serving to mourn the losses (particularly the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine) and reconstruct the nation. And yet Amiati and Bordas were also active agents, giving voice to the experiences of a suffering populace. In this paper, we seek to re- situate Amiati and Bordas, who are largely overlooked by historians and musicologists, within the literature on cultural responses to political conflict. We examine Amiati and Bordas as both symbols and agents of French nationalism during and after the année terrible. We focus on their performing activities and contextualize key songs in their repertoire, including Pauvre mère d’Alsace and Deux années 1870–1871, which capture the roles and struggles of women. Delving into contemporary and retrospective reviews, we address how they moved their listeners – through the use of symbolic costuming, musical and physical gestures, vocal quality – as well as how the role of memory and nostalgia constructed these singers as “les muses du peuple.”
3. Politicizing Mozart in Austria from the First Republic to the Third Reich, or How the Nazis Stole an Anniversary
Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis, Université de Montréal
The instrumentalization of Mozart’s life and works as a tool of cultural propaganda during the Third Reich reached a climax with the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death on December 5, 1941, which was most notably celebrated in Vienna with the “Mozart Week of the German Reich.” Until now, this eminently Nazi festival has been understood as a creation sui generis (Loeser, 2007; Reitterer, 2008; Levi, 2010; Stachel, 2014). However, newly discovered sources reveal that it was actually modelled on plans elaborated ten years earlier, during Austria’s First Republic. Based on an extensive survey of Austrian archival sources and newspapers from the period, this paper delivers the first overview of the Austrian Mozart festivities of 1931, and demonstrates that these celebrations and other unrealized projects for the Mozart Year 1931 were taken up by the Nazis in 1941 with very minimal changes. Despite this very high formal continuity between the Mozart celebrations of the First Republic and the Third Reich, the shift in discourse could hardly be sharper. While the Mozart of 1931 is presented as an explicitly Austrian composer whose music calls to reunite all nations in universal peace, the Mozart of 1941 becomes a Germanized populist figure for whom German soldiers are invited to fight, especially on the new Eastern front. The Nazi celebration of Mozart thus appears in a space of tension between the appropriation of an earlier anniversary and the establishment of a new, militarized discourse around the composer.