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Brecht at the Opera$
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Joy H. Calico

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254824

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254824.001.0001

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Brecht's Legacy for Opera

Brecht's Legacy for Opera

Estrangement and the Canon

Chapter:
(p.140) 5 Brecht's Legacy for Opera
Source:
Brecht at the Opera
Author(s):

Joy H. Calico

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520254824.003.0006

Opera is indebted to Bertolt Brecht. The evidence lies not in librettos and scores but in production, stagecraft, direction, and mise-en-scène and in their effect on the spectating audience member. A stage director, whose work has been informed by Brecht's audience theory, shapes the experience of attending an opera performance in present times. In this context estrangement is an instrument of Brecht's minor pedagogy, a means of empowering the audience in its engagement with conventional bourgeois theater repertoire. Major pedagogy transforms the spectator into a spect-actor, a subject with agency that extends well beyond the theater, and this is the agenda most often associated with Brecht. It is not necessarily applicable in all theater contexts, however, and the comparatively modest mission of minor pedagogy via estrangement is custom-made for canonical opera.

Keywords:   Brecht, pedagogy, spectator, theater, canon

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