The Art of Opera: Variability of Artistic Languages of Screen Forms


Specifics of an artistic language of screen forms of opera and its variations (movies, TV performances, live broadcasts in movie theatres) could be explicated successfully using a case study of different interpretations of the same work. The article retrospectively illustrates variability of an artistic language of the operatic screen forms using a case study of screen adaptations of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata (1853). The article analyzes a film-opera by Franco Zeffirelli (1982), a film-opera by Mario Lanfranchi (1968), TV-broadcast of Adrian Marthaler’s staging of La Traviata at Zurich Central station (2008), and the live broadcast in movie theaters of Willy Decker’s production at the Metropolitan Opera (2012). The author presumes that the format of an opera-film through interacting with the audience primarily on emotional and symbolic levels appears as “static”. TV live broadcasts of opera productions, which have replaced filmed opera, convey the “completeness” and “stasis” of what is happening on screen thus allowing the viewer to feel the spontaneity of theatrical action and actually ushering the spectator into the space of each frame. Live broadcasts of opera performances in movie theatres create a unique symbiosis of arts: a “live”, devoid of stasis and predetermination, feature film emerges. Nowadays, when theatres are increasingly offering live broadcasts of their performances in Internet, it is possible to state that the operatic art is not just oriented towards the screen arts but is searching new opportunities to “adapt” itself to the screen format, and can no longer exist independently off the screen. All this affects the artistic language of screen and theatrical forms of the operatic art. Although the operatic art interacts well with the multimedia technologies, the issues of interpretation and transformation of the artistic forms, which arise when recordings of elapsed performances are converted to digital format and viewed on modern devices, require a very delicate approach. Tablet computers and other media devices, which are able to reproduce nearly every recording, in a certain sense, allow customization of the technical and aesthetic forms of an art piece according to the user’s preferences, thus introducing personalized artistic accents of a viewer.

About the authors

Alexandra Vadimovna Mesyanzhinova


Author for correspondence.

PhD in Cultural Studies


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Copyright (c) 2014 Mesyanzhinova A.V.

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