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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the concept of a “historically informed performance” is necessarily different for opera from what it is for instrumental music. Unlike most instrumental music, opera tells a more or less historically grounded story and represents a more or less historically specific time and place, where there are modern human beings in character on the stage, and the sympathies of the audience need to be actively engaged if the performance is to be successful. Because of these parameters, the question of historicity in opera performance can only usefully be examined by taking the visual (including gestural), sonic, and ideological domains as separate systems. Case studies at the end of the chapter illustrate several ways in which these domains can interact to produce different kinds of historical informedness.

Keywords: performance, historically informed performance, historicity, gestural, visual systems

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