Call for Papers | Musical Theatre and Space

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 8, 2015

From H-ArtHist:

Musical Theatre and Space: Early Modern European Courts
Gotha, Friedenstein Castle, 27–29 October 2016

Proposals due by 15 September 2015

International Colloquium of the Rudolstädter Arbeitskreis zur Residenzkultur e.V., the Institut für Musikwissenschaft of the Universität des Saarlandes, the Institut für Kunstgeschichte of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha

The union of the arts in the Gesamtkunstwerk (‘total work of art’) of court opera has been repeatedly studied by diverging approaches of musical history research. However, although a wide range of different arts were involved in the realization of music-theatrical spectacles, still an interdisciplinary approach seems to be pursued rather hesitantly. Thus, for example, particular spatial-architectural aspects of court opera scarcely have been taken into account. Yet, music theater connotes scenic performance and architecture alike. Both constituted essential elements of aristocratic representation in the 17th and 18th centuries. Just as castles and palaces, the European nobility used operas and ballets as core media for the staging and representation of dynasty and person. In the Old Empire not only the imperial estate nobility initiated music-theatrical spectacles, but also lesser courts arranged ballets and operas according to their potentials. Even in the urban space opera-houses sporadically became installed, maintained by the aristocracy.

Hence, from a European perspective the colloquium shall focus upon the varied connections and interplays which existed between musical theatre and the court and its space in the narrow and broader sense. Mainly, scenic performance and architectural space are to be scrutinized. In this context the mutual relations between different forms of musical theatre, architecture, venue and stage are to be considered. In what ways and by what means a special ‘performance space’ became produced by the means of music, sound, language and movement (dance, facial expression and gesture), of architecture, picture and sculpture as well as light and technology? Which specific and corresponding spaces at court became created or converted, and which were the traditions being used? Within the scope of these issues, it is a significant question, to what extent the site of the spectacle on the one and the music-theatrical work of art on the other hand presupposed each other. To this effect the characteristics of Italian, French or Swedish musical theatre shall experience consideration in equal measure; terms of transfer and networks as well as the formation and development of certain types and models are to be analyzed. Against this background, it has to reconsidered, whether and to what extent at the courts there developed European standards, and whether these can be estimated to stand in accordance to the common national characteristics of ‘Italian’ and ‘French’. Furthermore, there shall be examined the recipients, the transfer in different social realms, the influence and participation of the court in the artistic realization, and finally the personal limits, which certainly existed.

As a vital point of all these thematic approaches it should be stressed, that the focus lies exclusively on the contexts of courts. Above all, the colloquium shall broach the genuine court conditions and shapes of performance and staging as they were implemented, understood and utilized by the European nobility only. Therefore, a core issue is posed by the problem of precise distinction, both socially and aesthetically, of the phenomena musical theatre and ‘court space’.

With the focus on court culture, we would be happy to receive contributions, preferably with an interdisciplinary approach, to the following range of topics:
• Court, opera and architecture as means of princely self-representation
• The ruler’s presence in the stage area
• Court venues and stage areas
• Music-theatrical staging within and beyond the stage area
• Stage technique, stage light, scenery and acoustics
• Motion in the stage area (stage dance, facial play, gesture)
• Forms, characteristics and sites of performance in comparison
• Different norms and practices at European courts
• The court audience
We encourage you to suggest also alternative topics. Please send an accordant proposal for presentation. The colloquium will take place subject to the acquisition or allocation of funds. A publication of the contributions is planned. We ask for proposals for the colloquium until 15th September 2015.

Dr. Heiko Laß: heiko.lass@kunstgeschichte.uni-muenchen.de
Dr. Margret Scharrer: m.scharrer@mx.uni-saarland.de

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