'Italian Opera' in 'Central Europe', 1600–1780: Research Trends and the Geographic Imagination

  • Reinhard Strohm


This brief survey of literature, provided with a bibliography, proposes to critically inform about research carried out over the last 30 years, and to identify research trends regarding subject definition, methodology and epistemology of the apparent duality, 'Italian Opera' and 'Central Europe'. A main question is how researchers have imagined their subject as a geographical space, and what their changing priorities had to do with developing regional concepts in music history. It is shown how, in the 1960s and 70s, the reception of Italian Opera in Europe was conceptualised as a national and European, not a regional question; how specialisation on mechanisms of production and consumption in the 1980s instigated more socially-oriented research, and how in this context both a nationalist and a universalist direction were being undermined. A renewed focus in the 1990s on small-scale production units such as individual cities, opera companies and travelling indivduals enabled researchers to recategorise Italian opera as a regional and diverse phenomenon. The contribution of such projects as the Storia dell'Opera Italiana (ed. Bianconi), the various Hofkultur researches in Germany, and the ESF programme Music in Europe, 1600-1900, with its study group on Italian Opera in Central Europe (Dubowy et al.) have now become influential. International collaboration also beyond 'central' Europe has seemed the most appropriate means of achieving good research results. Central Europe was, at least in opera, typified by its interest for the music of 'non-central' Italy. The concept of Central Europe in music (as in other matters) is a concept without borders.


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How to Cite
StrohmR. (2004). ’Italian Opera’ in ’Central Europe’, 1600–1780: Research Trends and the Geographic Imagination. Musicological Annual, 40(1&2), 103-112. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.40.1&2.103-112