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Popular Opera, Past and Present

  • Senate House, Rm 261 Malet Street London, WC1E 7HU United Kingdom (map)

This study afternoon, open to members of the public, will consider opera’s status as a form of popular entertainment from both historical and contemporary perspectives. The aim of the event is to scrutinise and challenge stereotypes about opera being an ‘elitist’ activity.

In the first half of the afternoon Dr Alexandra Wilson (Oxford Brookes University) and Dr Paul Rodmell (University of Birmingham) will recreate the British operatic culture of a century ago, demonstrating that in the early twentieth century opera played to all social classes, enjoyed close connections with a range of different types of popular culture and resisted being pigeon-holed as ‘highbrow’ art. In the second half of the afternoon they will be joined by further speakers for a round-table discussion of opera and popular culture today, debating whether the term ‘highbrow’ has any valid currency in the operatic context.

This event has been organised in association with the OBERTO opera research unit at Oxford Brookes University ( and funded by the British Academy. Attendance is free but places are limited. Please email in order to reserve a place.