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The University of Southampton

Katharine Ellis Seminar

David Fisher Photograph
2 - 3 February 2016
Building 6 Room 1077 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Kate Guthrie at .

Event details

The Music Department welcomes Katharine Ellis to present her research, and preside over a variety of seminars, workshops and presentations, as part of the Hartley Residency Program.


Tuesday 2 February 2016

11:00-12:30 Introductory seminar for post-graduate students: "Writing a Cultural History of Regional France"

16:00-17:30 Formal presentation: Katharine Ellis (University of Bristol) "Southern French Difference and Open-Air Opera at the Turn of the Twentieth Century"

The formal presentation on the Tuesday afternoon will be followed by a wine reception in the Arlott Bar, to which all are welcome


Wednesday 3 February 2015

09:00-11:00 MMus Critical Practice in Musicology (MUSI 6022) with Mark Everist (University of Southampton)
(Please note this lecture will take place in Music, building 2, room 2061)

11:30-13:00 One-to-one meetings (contact Dr Kate Guthrie for a slot)

14:00-15:30 Formal presentation: Mark Everist (University of Southampton)

16:00-17:00 Departmental roundtable: "The Historical Press: How we Got Into Reception History, and How to Get Out"
Position Paper: Katharine Ellis “The Historical Press: How we Got Into Reception History, and How to Get Out”
Panelists: Mark Everist, Kate Guthrie, Francesco Izzo, Katharine Ellis
Chair: Andrew Pinnock



Information and Abstracts

Introductory seminar for post-graduate students: “Writing a Cultural History of Regional France”
Tuesday 2 February 2016, 11:00-12.30

Preparatory Reading:

  • Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (New York: Basic Books, 1984), “Introduction”
  • Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (New Haven & London: 1994), “Regionalism”, pp.166-192
  • Katharine Ellis, “Paris and the Provinces from the Revolution to World War I”, The Cambridge Companion to French Music, ed. Simon Trezise (Cambridge University Press), 362-378

Formal presentation (Katharine Ellis): “Southern French Difference and Open-Air Opera at the Turn of the Twentieth Century”

Tuesday 2 February 2016, 16:00-17:30

Introducing an excoriating review of Hérold’s Zampa in 1835, Hector Berlioz reminisced about where he had first heard it, as a Prix de Rome laureate in Italy. His point: his most profound musical experiences were not at the Teatro San Carlo or at La Scala, but in the ruined theatres of Pompeii and Rome, where the evening breeze, funnelled through the ancient architecture, sang to him with an expressiveness not even the best operatic voices could equal. There is no empirical connection between Berlioz’s experience and the fin-de-siècle tradition of mounting old and new opera in the ancient theatres and amphitheatres of the South of France, but by the end of the century a value-laden binary of enclosed versus open theatrical spaces emerges via a new trend for open-air theatre and opera.

The phenomenon inspired musical commissions and revivals alike. It was urban but not metropolitan, centred on smaller towns such as Nîmes, Arles, or Béziers (where the amphitheatre was actually a new-build). Yet it was also rural, the health of its open-air character dependent on distance from the noise, stench and implicit corruption of big-city life. From the re-booting of Gounod’s Mireille in Arles in 1899 to the ‘frescoes’ of Déodat de Séverac’s Héliogabale (Béziers, 1910) and indeed beyond, much of the operatic latinité of the South rested on the re-appropriation of these monuments as artistic crucibles with which Paris, despite all its theatres, could not compete.


Formal Presentation (Mark Everist): “‘Theatre Music and Cultural Transfer in Europe, 1800-1870’: France and her Friends”

Wednesday 3 February 2016, 14:00-15:30

The history of stage music in the nineteenth century trades largely in the commodities of named composer and opera in the early 21st century canon. This serves our understanding of the nineteenth century badly, and in ways in which colleagues in other disciplines would find strange. Examining stage music on a European scale, from Lisbon to St Petersburg and from Dublin to Odessa, in pursuit of an understanding of the cultures that supported opera in the long nineteenth century begins to uncover networks of activity that span the entire continent, and that engage, critically for this day’s work, French stage music – of all types – in the farthest flung regions.

Setting forth an understanding of nineteenth-century stage music that attempts to grasp the complex reality of “opera” in Seville, Klausenberg or Copenhagen, opens up the possibility not only of going beyond tired notions of national identity, or even of the “imagined community” but also of beginning to understand the cultural contest in terms of urban encounter or melee.

Departmental Roundtable: “The Historical Press: How we Got Into Reception History, and How to Get Out”

Wednesday 3 February 2016, 16:00-17:00

A RILM keyword search for the word 'reception' yields nearly 27,500 hits in multiple languages since 1933 --- the same number as the keyword 'manuscript' for the same period. Over 10,000 of these hits are from the last decade. Reception history has, it would seem, become a normal part of musicological study, and rapid press digitisation has doubtless underpinned its expansion. Yet despite position statements advocating a more sophisticated approach (Everist 1999 in Rethinking Music is one such), much reception history remains characterised by credulous or one-dimensional reporting of press sources. Via a focus on the triangulation of the literary, the musicological and the historical, this position paper suggests other ways forward



Speaker information

Katharine Ellis, University of Bristol. Professor

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