Orientalism & Opera

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Omar Abboud



Original Date

September 22, 2019


I grew up playing the piano and studying music history, but never critically thought about the fact that we see Arabs portrayed in opera all the time. So I asked: what motivates this type of musical Orientalism? And how is it different than depictions present in better-documented media such as painting, literature, drama, and even film?

Most importantly: how have Orientalist depictions in music contributed to the development and understanding of Western culture, and even Arab culture generally?

This talk focuses on the presence of Orientalism and depictions of the Arab world in Western classical music, focusing on opera.

Sources & Future References

  • Edward Said, Culture & Imperialism, "The Empire at Work: Verdi's Aida," https://janeaustensummer.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/culture_and_imperialism.pdf

  • Anna Netrebko and Blackface, VAN Magazine, https://van-us.atavist.com/color-blind

  • 1984 film "Amadeus," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FgqBQamzus

Contact Info                                                                                                    

LinkedIn: Omar Abboud Instagram: @omar_abb Website: omarabboud.com


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