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1 - Stravinsky’s Timely Excavations, 1951

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2018

Harriet Boyd-Bennett
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

The premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (1951) was a much-hyped media event, one that entered into the heart of musical debates. An epithet attributed to The Rake’s Progress in the press was that it was a ‘true opera’, and yet its music was received as disturbing as well as satisfying. Although critics were unsettled by Stravinsky’s reliance on the past, they sought to reinforce their view of the work as modern, as the ultimate expression of contemporary opera culture – an impression that jars with scholarly assumptions that see the opera as incongruous within the postwar context. This ‘ritorno all’antico’ was in fact becoming a feature of contemporary media culture via the network broadcasting of opera on radio and the steady release of opera on record. Theatres such as La Fenice were also increasingly reliant on past classics, an older phenomenon now perceived as taking place to an unprecedented degree. Theatres were, in other words, solidifying into lieux de mémoire at a time otherwise more occupied with forgetting the past and looking to the future. Revisiting The Rake’s Progress in this new context challenges its traditional historiographical positioning, and provokes reconsideration of the nexus between opera, high modernism and technology.
Type
Chapter
Information
Opera in Postwar Venice
Cultural Politics and the Avant-Garde
, pp. 32 - 60
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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