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Anna Fishzon, Fandom, Authenticity, and Opera - Mad Acts and Letter Scenes in Fin‑de‑Siècle Russia

Linda Edmondson
p. 928-931
Notice bibliographique

Anna Fishzon, Fandom, Authenticity, and Opera - Mad Acts and Letter Scenes in Fin‑de‑Siècle Russia, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 273 p.

Texte intégral

1The purpose of this book is to examine opera and its reception in late imperial Russia from a new perspective. The author’s concern is not with the evolution of the musical and dramatic forms in themselves, but with audiences, impresarios, the press and in particular the creation of fandom. Fishzon places her subject in a context of European consumer culture as it developed in the late nineteenth century and follows recent work in claiming that the most distinctive feature of this culture was the “sensationalization of everyday life,” this being a “central aspect of modernity.” Authenticity, she claims, “was histrionic and pungent” (p. 1), “defined in melodramatic terms,” and nowhere as much as in St Petersburg and Moscow in the fin‑de‑siècle. “Russian periodicals and newspapers, political speeches, revolutionary actors, and the private correspondence of so‑called ordinary people regularly articulated extreme emotional states and gushing avowals. Opera fandom and celebrity, I claim, were at the center of this modern and especially Russian aesthetic project.” (p. 2)

2At the same time Fishzon is concerned to integrate music and its reception into the study of history and asks why the recent work of musicologists and literary experts on music in late imperial Russia has received virtually no attention from “mainstream” historians. She suggests that this oblivion arises in part from a perception of music audiences in this period as either an uninteresting mass or a cultural elite. I would argue that the neglect of music in history writing reflects the marginalization of “classical” music and music education in our own culture, except when it is presented as a celebrity event (such as the Three Tdon or5

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