University of Cambridge > > Faculty of Music Colloquia > Le roi caché : incognito and false identity in Baroque opera

Le roi caché : incognito and false identity in Baroque opera

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Incognito – disguise, concealment of identity – is a strategy used by people in many situations, for example by early modern princes when they wished to amuse themselves. The lecture unfolds a panorama of literary uses of the incognito, from folk-tales via spoken plays to operas, and attempts a classification of the device in the literary genres: magic, tragic, heroic, romantic, comic and pastoral. The philosophical reputation of the pastoral incognito is traced in classical authors, in John Dunton’s treatise The art of living incognito (1700), and in Joseph von Eichendorff’s play Das Incognito (c. 1840). Occurrences in operas of Handel’s era are thematically listed and categorised; three brief cases studies taken from drammi per musica explore narrative or scenic uses and their relevance to courtly etiquette. Finally, analytical considerations of the entire field address the hermeneutics of social relationships and aim at a historical view of the concept of the individual.

Professor Strohm is Emeritus Professor of Music in Oxford (Heather Professor from 1996 – 2007). bPh.D. 1971, TU Berlin (with C. Dahlhaus) on ‘Italian opera arias of the early 18th century’. 1970-82 co-editor, Richard-Wagner-Gesamtausgabe, Munich. 1975-83 Lecturer then Reader in Music, King’s College, U. of London. 1983-90 Professor of Musicology, Yale University. 1990-96 Reader then Professor of Historical Musicology, King’s College London. Corresponding member, American Musicological Society; Akademie der Wissenschaften, Göttingen. Fellow, British Academy. Prize-winner Balzan Foundation 2012. Currently directs the Balzn Research Project “Towards a global history of music”.

This talk is part of the Faculty of Music Colloquia series.

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