Abstract and Keywords
This chapter discusses the opera chorus throughout its history as a lightning rod for operatic reform, focusing in particular on the fluctuations of its dramatic and political responsibilities. In opera, the chorus’s dramaturgical role has frequently indexed the genre’s concerns more generally: referencing the chorus of ancient Greek tragedy by providing reflective commentary; providing a human spectacle to populate the scenic one; or embodying the sentiments of nationalism and other mass politics. But this chapter also makes the case that eighteenth-century debates over verisimilitude—particularly the idealized dramaturgy of spontaneous utterance by individuals, not groups—effectively removed the opera chorus from a central role in the genre. Although the chorus obviously remained a persistent presence on the operatic stage, it has struggled to recoup the dramaturgical grounding it enjoyed in earlier centuries.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.