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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The opera canon—and how we perceive it—in many ways defines not just the scheduling and repertory of opera houses but also the whole structure: the opera food chain. The way a work is marketed and talked about, the way the audience and the press come to it with different expectations—all this depends to a surprisingly large extent on its place in the operatic canon. As stage director at Covent Garden, this chapter’s author felt keenly how significantly a work’s place in the canon affects the way people react to its staging. Despite its apparent rigidity, the canon can be a flexible concept, created and re-created, constantly changing. Much as it may sometimes seem that the operatic canon is restrictive, taking on a truly canonic piece can offer a strange kind of freedom in which interpretation really is creation. This chapter is paired with John Rockwell’s “Critical reflections on the operatic canon.”

Keywords: core canon, stage director, city centers, core audience, programming, different canons

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