Inhabiting Whiteness: The Eoan Group La Traviata, 1956

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Active at the height of the apartheid regime, the Eoan Group treated South Africans to operas ‘in the true tradition of Italy’. The group relied on elaborate, naturalistic stage settings and the most stereotypical of operatic conventions to construct a hereditary link between itself and Italy, thus creating an alignment with the cultural ideal of Europe and its colonial representative –whiteness. This article offers a materialist reading of the Eoan Group’s first operatic endeavour, La traviata in 1956, to argue that their invocation and emulation of the ‘Italian tradition’ served to situate them within a class-based discourse of racially inscribed civility. Drawing on archival records relating to props, costumes, advertisements and funding, it shows how the group constructed an imagined Italian heritage both to emphasise the quality of their productions, and to create an affinity with their white audiences. In this reading, the construction of an Italian operatic tradition functions not as a neutral aesthetic category, but as a historically situated politics of race and class.
LanguageEnglish
JournalCambridge Opera Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Feb 2019

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Whiteness
Italy
Colonies
Civility
Aesthetics
Heritage
Africa
Discourse
Apartheid
Ideal
Materialist
Alignment
Funding
Affinity
Costume
Opera
Props

Cite this

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title = "Inhabiting Whiteness: The Eoan Group La Traviata, 1956",
abstract = "Active at the height of the apartheid regime, the Eoan Group treated South Africans to operas ‘in the true tradition of Italy’. The group relied on elaborate, naturalistic stage settings and the most stereotypical of operatic conventions to construct a hereditary link between itself and Italy, thus creating an alignment with the cultural ideal of Europe and its colonial representative –whiteness. This article offers a materialist reading of the Eoan Group’s first operatic endeavour, La traviata in 1956, to argue that their invocation and emulation of the ‘Italian tradition’ served to situate them within a class-based discourse of racially inscribed civility. Drawing on archival records relating to props, costumes, advertisements and funding, it shows how the group constructed an imagined Italian heritage both to emphasise the quality of their productions, and to create an affinity with their white audiences. In this reading, the construction of an Italian operatic tradition functions not as a neutral aesthetic category, but as a historically situated politics of race and class.",
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Inhabiting Whiteness : The Eoan Group La Traviata, 1956. / Pistorius, Juliana.

In: Cambridge Opera Journal, 27.02.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - Active at the height of the apartheid regime, the Eoan Group treated South Africans to operas ‘in the true tradition of Italy’. The group relied on elaborate, naturalistic stage settings and the most stereotypical of operatic conventions to construct a hereditary link between itself and Italy, thus creating an alignment with the cultural ideal of Europe and its colonial representative –whiteness. This article offers a materialist reading of the Eoan Group’s first operatic endeavour, La traviata in 1956, to argue that their invocation and emulation of the ‘Italian tradition’ served to situate them within a class-based discourse of racially inscribed civility. Drawing on archival records relating to props, costumes, advertisements and funding, it shows how the group constructed an imagined Italian heritage both to emphasise the quality of their productions, and to create an affinity with their white audiences. In this reading, the construction of an Italian operatic tradition functions not as a neutral aesthetic category, but as a historically situated politics of race and class.

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