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Is Aida an orientalist opera?

  • Paul Robinson

Among the more remarkable events of recent intellectual history is that Edward Said, famous avant-garde literary critic, passionate advocate for the Palestinian cause, has begun to write about music. Moreover, not just about any kind of music, but about classical music in the élite (and canonical) European tradition – the symphonies of Beethoven, the operas of Wagner, the chamber music of Schubert and Brahms. Several years ago Said took over the music column in The Nation magazine, and more recently he has published a book, Musical Elaborations, based on a series of invited lectures at the University of California at Irvine.

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This essay was first presented in October 1992 at a conference at Syracuse University entitled ‘Designing Italy: “Italy” in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas’. The proceedings of the conference are to be published in a volume edited by Beverly Allen, Ayele Bekerie and Mary Russo.

1 Said, Edward W., ‘The Imperial Spectacle’, Grand Street, 6/2 (Winter 1987), 103. Hereafter, page references to this article will appear in parentheses in the text.

2 Letter to Camille du Locle dated 19 February 1868, quoted in Budden, Julian, The Operas of Verdi, III (London, 1981), 161.

3 Budden, , III, 226.

4 Budden, , III, 212.

5 Budden, , III, 211.

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Cambridge Opera Journal
  • ISSN: 0954-5867
  • EISSN: 1474-0621
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-opera-journal
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