Professor Michael Burden - Musicological Society of Australia


Shifts and Turns: Moving Music, Musicians and Ideas

30 Nov - 3 Dec 2016

39th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia
Elder Conservatorium of Music, The University of Adelaide

Convenors: Steven Knopoff and Daniela Kaleva


Professor Michael Burden

Keynote Presentation

Date: Thursday 1 December
Venue: Macbeth Lecture Theatre, Badger Building Ground Floor
Time: 2:00pm

Destablizing Opera: Metastasio as villain, or as ‘our musical Shakespeare’?

Our understanding o the nature of 18th-century opera has been transformed in the last decades. Changes in historical approaches have favoured discussions focused on cities, theatres, courts, and repertories, discussions which have allowed us to interpret opera in a variety of contexts, and which has drawn into the general discourse the works of ‘lesser composers’, stagings in ‘minor centres’, and performances by ‘second rank singers’. Some of these changes have been caused by developments from within music itself; notions of historically aware performance have made us more sympathetic to, for example, works that would previously have been rejected without serious study.

In this paper, I will be returning to themes from some earlier work – the pasticcio, aria replacement, the competing demands of personalities on the opera genre - and focusing on London, I will re-examine some of the processes involved in the business of opera. And I will argue that the London microcosm illustrates that without the figure of Metastasio, the opera industry of 18th-century Europe would not have been possible.



Michael Burden is Fellow in Music at New College, and Professor in Opera Studies in the University. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, and his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He has served on the Council of the Royal Musical Association, is a patron member of the American Society for Eighteenth-century Studies, a trustee of Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), and is currently the Past President of the British Society for 18th-century Studies.

He is Dean of the College, and also holds the offices of Chattels Fellow and Portraits Fellow. He served for some years on the University of Oxford Committee for the Museums and Scientific Collections, and is currently a Visitor of the Ashmolean Museum. Outside music, his interests are in art, architecture, and detective fiction.

For more information, please visit Professor Michael Burden's page at Oxford Univeristy.