Puccini and Politics

  • Puccini in Politics

    Dr Alexandra Wilson

    Dr Alexandra Wilson’s research on the reception of Puccini’s operas and the way in which they interacted with early twentieth-century debates about cultural identity and modernity has reached a large, international audience.

    In her award-winning book, The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity (Cambridge, 2007), Wilson demonstrated how Puccini’s works were politicised during the composer’s lifetime, becoming caught up in debates about nationalism, gender and class.

    Dr Wilson has subsequently reworked her research in a variety of high-profile, non-academic contexts, disseminating it to the public via numerous opera house programme essays, media broadcasts, pre-performance talks, podcasts and a book for general readers.

    Dr Wilson has worked extensively with the BBC and various opera companies.

    Authoritative yet accessible

    Authoritative yet accessible, her work has deepened audience understanding of the contexts of Puccini’s repertory, particularly of his lesser known works and encouraging audiences to explore other unfamiliar operas from this period.

    Dr Wilson has worked extensively with the BBC and various opera companies in the UK and overseas. In particular, she has developed a sustained engagement with the audience of the Royal Opera House (ROH).

    A contextual essay by Dr Wilson, drawing upon her research, appears in the programme of each of the Puccini operas in the ROH’s current repertoire.

    The Commissioning Editor (Publications) for the ROH argues that Wilson’s essays on the historical contexts for the operas help audiences to understand them and their production styles better, noting that Dr Wilson’s research makes her uniquely placed to provide such context.

    He argues that Dr Wilson’s essays both deepen audiences’ engagement with the opera in question and encourage a heightened sense of participation in operatic culture more broadly. He comments that “all this makes for a more involved audience who are able to get greater benefit from opera in performance: when they learn more, they enjoy and value the experience and the culture more”.

    Demystifying opera

    In her research more broadly, Dr Wilson has been influential in demystifying opera and demonstrating its relevance to everyday life. Her current project focuses on operatic culture in 1920s Britain, examining the historical roots of the negative stereotypes that surround opera in the UK today.

    Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR. Further information on Dr Alexandra Wilson can be found on her profile page and her book The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity is available to purchase online.