What happens when operas that are comfortably ensconced in the canon are thoroughly rethought and radically recast on stage? What does a staging do to our understanding of an opera, and of opera generally? While a stage production can disrupt a work that was thought to be established, David J. Levin here argues that the genre of opera is itself unsettled, and that the performance of operas, at its best, clarifies this condition by bringing opera’s restlessness and volatility to life.
Unsettling Opera explores a variety of fields, considering questions of operatic textuality, dramaturgical practice, and performance theory. Levin opens with a brief history of opera production, opera studies, and dramatic composition, and goes on to consider in detail various productions of the works of Wagner, Mozart, Verdi, and Alexander Zemlinsky. Ultimately, the book seeks to initiate a dialogue between scholars of music, literature, and performance by addressing questions raised in each field in a manner that influences them all.