The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession

University of Chicago Press
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Though some dismiss opera as old-fashioned, it shows no sign of disappearing from the world’s stage. So why do audiences continue to flock to it? Given its association with wealth, one might imagine that opera tickets function as a status symbol. But while a desire to hobnob with the upper crust might motivate the occasional operagoer, for hardcore fans the real answer, according to The Opera Fanatic, is passion—they do it for love.

Opera lovers are an intense lot, Claudio E. Benzecry discovers in his look at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera’s globalization. Listening to the fans and their stories, Benzecry hears of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera’s power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on his insightful analysis of these acts of love, Benzecry proposes new ways of thinking about people’s relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.
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About the author

Claudio E. Benzecry is associate professor of communication studies and affiliated faculty of sociology at Northwestern University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jun 15, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780226043432
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / General
Music / Genres & Styles / Opera
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The landscape of social theory has changed significantly over the three decades since the publication of Anthony Giddens and Jonathan Turner’s seminal Social Theory Today. Sociologists in the twenty-first century desperately need a new agenda centered around central questions of social theory. In Social Theory Now, Claudio E. Benzecry, Monika Krause, and Isaac Ariail Reed set a new course for sociologists, bringing together contributions from the most distinctive sociological traditions in an ambitious survey of where social theory is today and where it might be going.

The book provides a strategic window onto social theory based on current research, examining trends in classical traditions and the cutting edge of more recent approaches. From distinctive theoretical positions, contributors address questions about how social order is accomplished; the role of materiality, practice, and meaning; as well as the conditions for the knowledge of the social world. The theoretical traditions presented include cultural sociology, microsociologies, world-system theory and post-colonial theory, gender and feminism, actor network and network theory, systems theory, field theory, rational choice, poststructuralism, pragmatism, and the sociology of conventions. Each chapter introduces a tradition and presents an agenda for further theoretical development. Social Theory Now is an essential tool for sociologists. It will be central to the discussion and teaching of contemporary social theory for years to come.
Winner of the 2007 Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society and the 2007 Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

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Gossett begins by tracing the social history of nineteenth-century Italian theaters in order to explain the nature of the musical scores from which performers have long worked. He then illuminates the often hidden but crucial negotiations opera scholars and opera conductors and performers: What does it mean to talk about performing from a critical edition? How does one determine what music to perform when multiple versions of an opera exist? What are the implications of omitting passages from an opera in a performance? In addition to vexing questions such as these, Gossett also tackles issues of ornamentation and transposition in vocal style, the matters of translation and adaptation, and even aspects of stage direction and set design.

Throughout this extensive and passionate work, Gossett enlivens his history with reports from his own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro. The result is a book that will enthrall both aficionados of Italian opera and newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure.

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In 2011, at the age of twenty-four, Ryan won a nationwide competition hosted by New York's Metropolitan Opera, beating out 1,200 other talented singers. Today, he is a rising star performing major roles at the Met and Europe's most prestigious opera houses.

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The landscape of social theory has changed significantly over the three decades since the publication of Anthony Giddens and Jonathan Turner’s seminal Social Theory Today. Sociologists in the twenty-first century desperately need a new agenda centered around central questions of social theory. In Social Theory Now, Claudio E. Benzecry, Monika Krause, and Isaac Ariail Reed set a new course for sociologists, bringing together contributions from the most distinctive sociological traditions in an ambitious survey of where social theory is today and where it might be going.

The book provides a strategic window onto social theory based on current research, examining trends in classical traditions and the cutting edge of more recent approaches. From distinctive theoretical positions, contributors address questions about how social order is accomplished; the role of materiality, practice, and meaning; as well as the conditions for the knowledge of the social world. The theoretical traditions presented include cultural sociology, microsociologies, world-system theory and post-colonial theory, gender and feminism, actor network and network theory, systems theory, field theory, rational choice, poststructuralism, pragmatism, and the sociology of conventions. Each chapter introduces a tradition and presents an agenda for further theoretical development. Social Theory Now is an essential tool for sociologists. It will be central to the discussion and teaching of contemporary social theory for years to come.
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