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7lecture1780salome09SU - Lecture 7 Clements 1 School of...

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Lecture 7 Clements 1 School of Arts and Letters, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies Summer 2009 AK/HUMA 1780 6.0A Stories in Diverse Media Wilde Pictures and Sounds: More Representations of the Femme Fatale Salome, the Opera by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) So here it is, the moment you've been dreading … opera. Yes, you'll need to listen to/watch the excerpt specified, but it should be relatively painless as it will only be 5-10 minutes of your life. So far, I've been focusing on the two larger concepts that are implied by the title of this course: stories (narrative) and different media, using the term adaptation. Just to clarify, by media, which is the plural form of medium (please remember this come essay time), I'm referring to the material through which a story is conveyed, not to the media, as in the national enquirer, the paparazzi, or the news. Opera is not only one of the art forms through which we can discuss one of our designated stories, but it is also one that combines various media. Like film, opera unites several of the arts when it is performed. It is a significant precursor to a couple of art forms with which you are very familiar: movies, of course, together with their music, as well as multimedia forms of representation, such as computers. Opera combined media more than most other art forms long before the concept of multimedia became popular in the early 1990s with computers. In many ways, opera was the nineteenth century version of today's hip media, such as film and video games. Importantly, opera also involved technological innovation and was known for its ability to produce a spectacle—two more elements that the film industry developed. Opera viewers went to the theater to be awed, not only by the singing, but also by the
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Lecture 7 Clements 2 visual spectacle of elaborate costumes, lighting wizardry, and inventive and technologically advanced set design. Opera goers went to the theatre to partake in the illusion of being carried away to another place, to lose themselves in another moment in time and space. Sounds like a night out at the movies, does it not? One of the people who dominated opera in the nineteenth century was Richard Wagner (1813-1883) (See Lecture Summary Slide 2 ). There are a few things you need to know about Wagner to help make more sense out of what you will hear/see. Wagner was responsible for transforming the art of opera in the nineteenth century into what he called the total work of art , or in German, Gesamtkunstwerk . He theorized that opera would be the perfect medium through which to combine many, if not all, of the art forms within the framework of drama. Hearkening back to ancient Greek drama, Wagner suggested this ancient stuff had it right because it combined the elements of dance, music, and poetry. The separation of those elements, the theory goes, had diminished their expressive force and only in the total work of art could they regain their initial dignity, according to Wagner. The three arts of dancing, music, and poetry, then, would combine
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7lecture1780salome09SU - Lecture 7 Clements 1 School of...

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