Thursday 6 June 2019. 2-3:30pm, Room 339.
Speakers: Annalise Smith (Memorial University), E. Margaret Cormier (McGill University), Sadie Menicanin (University of Toronto)
Discussant: Colleen Renihan (Queen’s University)
Used to describe an entire opera, a specific musical moment, or a single performance, the label “beautiful” often goes unchallenged, though it frequently justifies an opera’s artistic merit and canonicity. This panel considers how the concept of beauty can be used to mask morally questionable aspects of an opera’s plot, often playing an insidious role in popular perceptions of opera. In light of the growing protest of opera’s frequent depiction of misogynistic violence and other societal ills, we address the cultural work that “beauty” does in justifying and canonizing problematic operatic stories and characters. Contextualizing conceptions of operatic beauty in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and considering how musical beauty contradicts and counterbalances despicable narrative moments in operas by Mozart and Berg, this panel brings together multiple perspectives to examine how we construct and value operatic beauty, and the ends that beauty can serve on the operatic stage.