Opera Conference

Opera’s second life: beyond the European context

12 to 14 June 2014

The global nature of today’s opera world is as well established as its European ancestry. Originating in seventeenth-century Italy, opera quickly migrated to more distant lands as part of the European colonial project. Iconic figures such as Fitzcarraldo epitomize the passion with which this art form has been pursued at the farthest frontiers of European expansion. The aims of this conference are two-fold: (1) to explore the processes by which Western opera was disseminated and cultivated outside the main European centres; and (2) to examine offshoot traditions of opera from non-European countries. In doing so, we hope to interrogate and problematize notions of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ which still tacitly obtain in much discourse about opera, and to explore transnational operatic exchanges of all kinds.

Conference participants are invited to explore some of the following themes, although proposals
on other topics are also welcomed:

  • Operatic activities in colonial societies
  • Opera and post-colonial identities
  • Cultural boomerangs: outside influences on the European mainstream
  • Homogenisation and diversity in global opera production today
  • Fusions and fissions in contemporary opera composition
  • Australian opera history
  • Opera at Europe’s peripheries: from Iceland to Istanbul
  • Opera touring companies: missionaries or multi-national outposts?
  • The outsider’s take: reimagining early opera from beyond Europe

Keynote Speakers

Simon Williams (UC Santa Barbara), Michael Halliwell (Sydney)


Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to David Larkin (david.larkin@sydney.edu.au) by Friday 20 September 2013. Notices of acceptance from the program committee will be sent by the middle of October 2013. Those selected for the program will be asked for firm commitments to attend by February 2014.

Program Committee

Michael Halliwell (Sydney), David Larkin (Sydney), Michael Ewans (Newcastle, NSW), Benjamin Walton (Cambridge)

Conference Location

The conference will take place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a faculty of the University of Sydney. Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, beside the Botanic Gardens and within a few minutes’ walk of Circular Quay and the city’s famous Opera House, the Conservatorium’s idyllic situation is matched by the calibre of its facilities.