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Politics in Opera Imprint

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Information Viva la Liberta! – Politics in Opera by Anthony

Arblaster is published by Verso in 1992 in London, Great

Britain. It was the book’s first edition and publication. The

book contains 340 pages of text, no illustrations, and

includes a tables of contents, nine main chapters, conclusion,

notes and and an index. The chapters start with the period of

modern politics, the French Revolution in 1789 and with

“Mozart: Class Conflict and Enlightenment” from that period

till modern opera / musicals in “Democratic Opera: Victims

as Heroes”. All nine chapters are written by the same author,

Anthony Arblaster. Each chapter tries to concentrate on one

to a few composers from the same period who share similar

political views and actions. Each chapter can be viewed as

an individual work / essay. The nine chapters follow the time

frame sequentially and are respectively: Ch.1 Mozart: Class

Conflict and Enlightenment, Ch.2 Opera and Revolution,

Ch.3 Patria Oppressa: Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and

Risorgimento (Nationalism I), Ch.4 Verdi: the Liberal

Patriot, Ch.5 Wagner: from Revolution to Racism, Ch.6

Russia, Czechoslovakia and a Footnote on England

(Nationalism II), Ch.7 Women in Opera, Ch.8 Interlude –

Opera without Politics: Puccini and Strauss and Ch.9

Democratic Opera: Victims as Heroes. The introduction and

conclusion helps in giving coherence to the vast time frame

of two hundread years and the different emphasis on political

of composers in their works. The detailed index is also

helpful in the cross referencing a particular work or

composer which might be mentioned in different chapters for

comparisons. The notes offer a detailed bibliography with

chance for further reference material on the issue of politics

in opera. General Summary Although the book does not

formally state the meaning of “politics”, the definition used

throughout the book is the “beliefs about how a country

ought to be governed” instead of politics as in political

power and actions or activities. The book also presents the

argument of social context at the particular period and place

as “politics” and that if opera lacks the political element

(social context), it lacks a convincing element in which

communication and mutual consensus among composer and

audience would be neglected, that opera cannot be ‘pure’

music. Music and especially opera has to be out of

‘something’, a ‘something’ that lies outside and beyond the

music itself and in many instances, political beliefs play are a

major part in it. The book’s intend is not to illustrate politics

as the major cause or result of opera but that the influence

exist and to refute the common downplay and negligence of

politics in opera from critics. In all chapters, the author

follows a similar pattern in presenting his arguments.

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