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OBERTO conference 2018: call for papers


Opera and Violence

The Force of Destiny - Giuseppe Verdi - English National Opera - 9th November 2015 Conductor - Mark Wigglesworth Director - Calixto Bieito Set Designer - Rebecca Ringst Costume Designer - Ingo Krügler Lighting Designer - Tim Mitchell Video Designer - Sa ENO  The Force of Destiny – Rinat Shaham, Anthony Michaels-Moore (c) Robert Workman

Oxford Brookes University
Oxford, UK

Tuesday 11 September 2018


Taking place on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, this year’s OBERTO conference focuses on the relationship between opera and violence. Far from being the restful, harmless entertainment of popular imagination, opera has not shied away from depictions and descriptions of violence, from the massacre of Penelope’s suitors in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno di’Ulisse in patria to Cavaradossi’s backstage torture in Tosca. Modern stagings likewise often emphasise violent aspects of operas, sometimes in addition to or excess of what is suggested in the libretto. Recent productions such as Damiano Michieletto’s Guillaume Tell at the Royal Opera House have prompted debates in the mainstream media about “gratuitous” violence on the theatrical stage. Are such productions merely sensationalist or do they make manifest the dark, unsettling issues that operas essentially confront? And in the age of “#MeToo”, how should the opera industry address behind-the-scenes violence?


This conference, organised by the OBERTO opera research group at Oxford Brookes University, aims to examine the manifold ways in which opera has interacted and continues to interact with violence, and how it in turn contributes to our perception of what constitutes violence on and off the operatic stage. Possible topics include, but are by no means restricted to:


  • death and (physical or psychological) violence in operatic plots
  • musical expressions of violence
  • operas written in response to war, conflict or terrorism – or as celebrations of peace
  • sexual violence in opera
  • violence in opera productions
  • the practicalities of fighting on stage
  • violence and harassment in the opera industry
  • the use of operatic music in violent films


We invite proposals for 20-minute presentations, panel discussions and alternative format sessions such as lecture-recitals or poster presentations. We welcome contributions not only from academics but also from performers and opera industry or media professionals. Past OBERTO conferences have facilitated lively debates between academics, practitioners and members of the general public, and we would like to continue this tradition.


Please send abstracts of 250 words or queries to oberto@brookes.ac.uk by Saturday 30 June 2018.

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