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5 - Open Works/Staging Crisis, 1959

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2018

Harriet Boyd-Bennett
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

For the 1959 festival, three one-act music theatre pieces were commissioned to demonstrate the vitality of theatrical activity in Italy. The occasion was the festival’s official response to widespread cries of opera crisis in public discourse. The resulting works were Luciano Berio’s Allez-hop, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi’s Diagramma circolare and Negri’s Il circo Max. All three were concerned – whether directly or more obliquely – with the devastating aftermath of war. While normally keen to promote firebrand political modernism, leftist critics criticised Bruni Tedeschi for making his musical conception too subservient to a political message; instead they praised Berio for the ‘openness’ of Allez-hop. 1959 was the year in which Umberto Eco began to publish essays on his idea of opera aperta, an embryonic term premised on notions of indeterminacy and openness; ‘Opera aperta’ was also the working title of Berio’s theatre piece. Although at the time the movement was called a neoavanguardia, it crystallised around ideals later to be seen as synonymous with postmodernism. This chapter shows how emergent Italian literary postmodernism was thus intimately connected to a previously neglected musical moment, one earlier than any accounted for by standard histories of musical postmodernism.
Type
Chapter
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Opera in Postwar Venice
Cultural Politics and the Avant-Garde
, pp. 154 - 178
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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