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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The tried and tested, not the new and original, became the norm early in the over-400-year history of opera, the Ur-adaptive art: because opera is a costly art form to produce, misjudging one’s audience can be disastrous. This may explain the persistence of a version of that familiar, limiting fidelity theory that has gone out of fashion in recent years in other areas. Since the Romantic period, opera’s tradition of Werktreue has demanded authenticity in realizing the operatic work authenticated by tradition. This has made the critical acceptance of adaptations of opera to film, for instance, a challenge. This essay theorizes not only adaptation into opera but also the adaptation of operas to both old and new media. The first, opera as adaptation, is especially complex, for it involves a series of stages: adapted text to libretto; libretto set to musical score; both libretto and score put on stage.

Keywords: adaptation, opera, fidelity theory, Werktreue, libretto, score

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