HMVK0431KU Musicology: Opera in Copenhagen: Migration, music and the city in the 18-19th centuries

Volume 2016/2017

This course aims to introduce the students to the history of opera in Copenhagen during the 18th and 19th centuries. The main focus will be on the ongoing processes of cultural transfer that shaped operatic life in the city throughout these centuries: a history of migration, translation and adaptation in relation to the city where opera was performed. Urban spaces – the city itself, broadly speaking, and also, more specifically, the spaces of performances, such as theaters or opera houses – played important roles in shaping cultural identities, as did the geographical and cultural position of Copenhagen as a gateway from Germany (and Europe) to the rest of Scandinavia. Perspectives from urban history as related to theatre and opera studies will be combined in order to study the adaptation of a foreign genre in a new space and cultural context.

Born in Italy, sung in Italian, and deeply rooted in Italian culture, opera very quickly became international and was favored in all the major cities in Europe. It soon was to reach the peripheries of the continent. German, French and Italian singers, musicians and, indeed, entire opera companies coming from Hamburg, Paris, Berlin and elsewhere visited and sometimes settled in Copenhagen. Some chose to remain for decades, as the composers Paolo Scalabrini and Giuseppe Sarti and several singers, including castratos in the 18th century, or Giuseppe Siboni and also the Italian opera company led by Piero Rossi in the 19th century. Some continued their migration to the north, as Francesco Uttini who settled in Stockholm, as did, later, Rossi’s Italian company (now led by Francesco Ciaffei). Rossi’s musical director, Paolo Sperati, on the other hand became a central person in the musical life in Christiania (Oslo).

The history of opera in Copenhagen will be considered, then, not merely from the perspective of national Danish (music-)historiography, but also, crucially, with a view to its transnational dimensions.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Course Preparation
  • 143
  • Exam Preparation
  • 42
  • Guidance
  • 1
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Total
  • 210
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment