Digital Diva: Opera on Video

Morris, Christopher (2010) Digital Diva: Opera on Video. Opera Quarterly, 26 (1). pp. 96-119. ISSN 0736-0053

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What is it about video recording that brings out the purist in theater practitioners and theorists? Time and again they reinforce a hierarchy that relegates the recording of theater to a derivative and debased status in relation to the unique and inimitable condition of a live performance. Whether produced for archival, documentary, or research purposes, recordings are seen to offer only the faintest trace of something now lost, something now properly preserved only in the ever-fading record of human memory. "Performance," writes Peggy Phelan, "cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so it becomes something other than performance."1 For director Peter Brook, theater "is an event for that moment in time, for that [audience] in that place-and it's gone. Gone without a trace .. . the only record is what they retained, which is how it should be in theater."2 An investment in this essential yet ephemeral quality of the live event- what Phelan calls the "ontology of performance" 3- is a recurring theme in theater and performance studies, standing at times like theater's line in the sand, beyond which media technology holds no sway.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Digital Diva; Opera on Video;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Music
Item ID: 4699
Identification Number: 10.1093/oq/kbq002
Depositing User: Christopher Morris
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2014 17:06
Journal or Publication Title: Opera Quarterly
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
Refereed: Yes

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