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Paper Session
Nov 12, 2021 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211112T1400 20211112T1450 America/Chicago The Papageno Problem: the Artificial Life of Subjects and Objects in Opera

The figure of Papageno in Mozart's _Die Zauberflöte_ is conventionally understood to represent 'natural man'-a figure untroubled by internal conflict or self-consciousness; musically and emotionally simple and cyclic; inhabiting the realm of the eternal (nature) rather than that of the temporal (culture). Yet some scholars cast him as a far more problematic character. Two influential readings are illustrative: first, Rose Rosengard Subotnik's view that Papageno's naturalness was a coded reference to how the Viennese social order positioned the lower classes; and second, Carolyn Abbate's view that the compulsive repetition in Papageno's song and his inability to see beyond his instinctual desires presented a vision of human mechanisation, with Papageno appearing as an unthinking, machine-like figure dutifully performing his work, without reflection or purpose. In both revisions, Papageno's relationship to performing objects-the pipes and the bells-becomes significant. While as a natural man Papageno does not experience a separation between himself as subject and the objects around him, the objects themselves function in a way that objectifies Papageno, highlighting his artificiality. For Subotnik, the very presence of the pipes on stage calls attention to the distance between the singers and the orchestral pit, revealing the mediated nature of the performance and the illusion of Papageno's appearance of naturalness. Likewise, in Abbate's reading Papageno is bound up in the logic of mechanisation by the fact that his voice is silenced by the 'mechanical laughter' of his own bells. In both readings, performing objects disrupt the immediacy of Papageno's naturalness, showing how his natural state denies him self-determination or agency, rendering him unabl ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org

The figure of Papageno in Mozart's _Die Zauberflöte_ is conventionally understood to represent 'natural man'-a figure untroubled by internal conflict or self-consciousness; musically and emotionally simple and cyclic; inhabiting the realm of the eternal (nature) rather than that of the temporal (culture). Yet some scholars cast him as a far more problematic character. Two influential readings are illustrative: first, Rose Rosengard Subotnik's view that Papageno's naturalness was a coded reference to how the Viennese social order positioned the lower classes; and second, Carolyn Abbate's view that the compulsive repetition in Papageno's song and his inability to see beyond his instinctual desires presented a vision of human mechanisation, with Papageno appearing as an unthinking, machine-like figure dutifully performing his work, without reflection or purpose. In both revisions, Papageno's relationship to performing objects-the pipes and the bells-becomes significant. While as a natural man Papageno does not experience a separation between himself as subject and the objects around him, the objects themselves function in a way that objectifies Papageno, highlighting his artificiality. For Subotnik, the very presence of the pipes on stage calls attention to the distance between the singers and the orchestral pit, revealing the mediated nature of the performance and the illusion of Papageno's appearance of naturalness. Likewise, in Abbate's reading Papageno is bound up in the logic of mechanisation by the fact that his voice is silenced by the 'mechanical laughter' of his own bells. In both readings, performing objects disrupt the immediacy of Papageno's naturalness, showing how his natural state denies him self-determination or agency, rendering him unable to participate actively in the drama.

Papageno's status as both a product of nature and an automaton-living yet artificial; both subject and object-allegorizes the historical ambivalence toward the question of whether animacy is itself a sufficient basis for autonomy. This session will explore this ambivalence with respect to forms of characterization, instrumentalization, and objectification in late 18th-century opera, as well as its modernist remediations. The session will pose questions about the function of staged artificiality as a vehicle for exhibiting the variousness of personhood and its agential affordances.

Bourgeois Opera’s Missing Center
Session 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 20:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 20:50:00 UTC

This paper will propose a new interpretation of the rise of bourgeois opera in the late eighteenth century, connecting it to shifting configurations of personhood, empathy, and distance at this moment of incipient imperialism. It has long been understood that bourgeois opera possessed a new realism; Mozart's late operas in particular have been prized for their "sympathetic representations of humanity" (Taruskin, Allanbrook). Recent scholarship continues the claims made for bourgeois drama by Rousseau and Diderot, who argued that audiences should be able to see people like themselves onstage. The spectator's ability to sympathise was (apparently) strongest when the characters were proximal historically, geographically, and socio-economically: not coincidentally, one of the founding beliefs of imperialism. Literary scholars have only recently noted that the "real" people of sentimental and bourgeois drama were amongst the most cliched, formulaic, undeveloped characters in the history of the European stage. Their appearance in the 1780s is best understood in the context of middle-class technologies of reproducible utterance, like the cliche printing press (Mathew). This talk will suggest that such limited sympathy is parodied in Mozart and Schikaneder's Papageno, in whom sympathy begins with the mirror image (Papagena, the bird), and the Rousseauian song of humanity is embarrassingly reiterable (pa… pa, pa).

 

The overdetermined rise of bourgeois opera obscured, and subsequently erased, a richer eighteenth-century discourse of character, that practiced empathy across race and gender lines. Take Dido, the North African queen from Virgil's _Aeneid_: she disappeared from opera stages after the 1780s, the kind of cardboard seria character, devoid of inner life, that was displaced by the "real humans" of middle-class opera. For Metastasians, though, as for earlier readers, Dido had the richest inner life of all fictional heroes. The difference is in how interiority was understood to manifest, and the hermeneutic gestures readers and listeners employed to identify it. The second section of this paper looks at the Dido of Metastasian opera, showing how these representations of consciousness, and the corresponding interpretive gestures of contemporary critics, point to a more expansive early modern understanding of human sympathy. 

Presenters
EL
Ellen Lockhart
University Of Toronto
Papageno’s Immaterial Panpipes
Session 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 20:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 20:50:00 UTC

When Papageno first enters the stage in _Die Zauberflöte_, the stage directions indicate that he holds "a _Faunen-Flötchen_ with both hands'' and that he "pipes and sings." Despite the copious scholarship on this opera, on the character of Papageno, and on the status of the various objects that play central roles in the opera's main action, surprisingly little attention has been given to the pipes that Papageno plays. Of course, they haven't been wholly ignored: in Subotnik's now classic essay, "Whose Magic Flute?" she accords the pipes a central role in our understanding of the musical universe of the opera, writing, "It is Papageno's humble pipes that delimit the claims of Mozart's mighty opera to be understood only within the terms on which is presents itself, and that establish a basis within the opera for criticizing the Magic Flute's reading of itself as a corroboration of Enlightenment values."  

 

Underlying Subotnik's elegant reading is an assumption that the panpipes were indeed a materially and timbrally different kind of thing from the surrounding orchestral instruments. Indeed, most scholars have assumed, implicitly or explicitly, that Papageno plays his own instrument and that the instrument he plays is a panpipe. While it seems probable that, in the original production, Schikaneder did indeed play his own instrument, evidence suggests it is unlikely that he played an actual panpipe. Nevertheless, in the years following the premiere of the Magic Flute, the image and concept of the panpipe became intimately bound up with the character of Papageno and the opera. The goal of this paper is two-fold: first I explore both the status of panpipes in the late eighteenth century and surviving the organological and iconographical evidence to think about what sort of instrument Papageno might have played. Second, I reflect on the lessons we might learn from the pipe's aerophonic ambiguities: how much does it matter what instrument Papageno plays (or if Papageno even plays at all)? And what might it tell us about both the limits of both timbre studies and organology that the nature of Papageno's pipes has been so long ignored?

Presenters
ED
Emily Dolan
Brown University
Papageno on the Assembly Line: Animating Objects with Sound in the Early Twentieth Century
Session 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 20:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 20:50:00 UTC

Papageno's bells-- described in the original libretto of _Die Zauberflöte_ as 'eine Maschine wie ein hölzernes Gelächter' ('a machine like wooden laughter')-- have been central to reinterpretations of this 'natural man' character as mechanical or automated. In Carolyn Abbate's reading, although Papageno sets the bells in motion, the 'machine' has the effect of silencing or replacing his voice. Drawing from early-twentieth-century sources, Abbate's vision of an object animated by sound with the power to 'kidnap' bodies maps onto cultural anxieties around the standardizing effects of technologies of production, not only in the cultural sphere (including devices that reproduce sound mechanically), but also in the realm of labour. As Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht noted, the first moving assembly lines that were introduced into industrial processes after 1913 saw workers' bodies mechanised and their voices silenced by the factory noise, yet at the same time these alienating qualities were thought to be mitigated by the worker's sense of being part of a larger collective enterprise-a rationalisation of production that would result in higher wages and cheaper products that could be purchased by the workers themselves. 


With this context in mind, Papageno might be described as exhibiting an assembly line mentality-his music is limited and repetitive, he has no sense of individual purpose, and his strongest desire is to marry in order to reproduce more versions of himself. This paper will treat Papageno's relationship with the 'machine' as a prompt to examine the metonymic function of objects animated by sound in the early twentieth century, with respect to the shifting relationships between humans and the objects they produce. It will focus on Lotte Reiniger's 1935 silhouette animation 'Papageno'. Despite Reiniger's Papageno being quite literally a two-dimensional figure-a paper cut-out-her adaptation assigns the character far more musical and narrative agency than Mozart and Schikaneder's vision. The paper will suggest that Reiniger's 'Papageno' and its aesthetic sympathies with the work of her associates Bertolt Brecht and Walter Ruttmann, was part of a broader reclamation of the mechanised figure within artistic discourses about labour and production.


Presenters
SC
Sarah Collins
The University Of Western Australia
University of Toronto
Brown University
The University of Western Australia
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