Jun 22, 2019 Jan 27, 2020

Opera as the World

The quest for a total work of art
Die Zauberflöte (La Flûte enchantée)


Jun 22, 2019 Jan 27, 2020


Galerie 3


Stéphane Ghislain Roussel

Research and Exhibition Officer

Anne Horvath

Opera as the World witnesses the encounter between the visual arts and opera in the 20th and 21st centuries. Beyond the straightforward presentation of opera sets created by artists, the exhibition aims to shed new light on the resonance, and tensions, between opera and the Wagnerian legacy of the Gesamtkunstwerk (Total work of art concept) (“total artform”), exploring how the visual arts and lyric theatre have enriched one another and, at times, become sources of mutual, radical influence and inspiration. In this two-way relationship, opera is a fertile ground for experiment and the fomenting of new aesthetic and political sensibilities.

In the context of the contemporary art scene, an exhibition devoted to opera is meaningful in more ways than one. We have moved beyond the myth of “the last opera”. In 1967, Pierre Boulez’s call to “blow opera houses up” resounded like an irrevocable verdict and death sentence, yet we know now that throughout the second half of the 20th century, opera produced a remarkable, important body of new work. The genre’s much criticized “spectacularization” had widespread impact on other artistic spheres. Opera-as-spectacle prompts further exploration of this theatrical sensibility and its innervating influence on contemporary art, after years of more conceptual forms.

“It’s not a question of re-composing an opera, with its [inherent] hierarchies, but rather of making an instrument for the production of freedom.”

Pascal Dusapin, à propos de To Be Sung, Arles-Caen, Actes Sud - Théâtre de Caen, 1994, p.20.