Artists

Prof. Dr. Glenn Stanley

Speaker

Lecture in English

In 1967, Michel Foucault described his current epoch as one being concerned with space, that is, a space which is geographic or liminal, political or ideological, occupied or free. With an increasing preoccupation with space in late capitalism, Foucault’s concern grows into disquietude, using artistic spaces, for example, to engage with the politics of land use, race, and sustainability, or using concepts of decoloniality and critical whiteness to critique some of our most hallowed artistic spaces.

This lecture series will engage with space, cultural and performative practice, and political engagement in the arts, pivoting around the following set of evolving questions: What are spaces of exclusion and inclusion in artistic practice? In what ways can art contribute to spatial justice? How are spaces racialized and segregated artistically? And how do artistic spaces capture, reflect, or comment upon socio-political ideologies?

 

Glenn Stanley
Fidelio and the German Ideologies: Political Interpretations through Performance

Beethoven’s opera Fidelio makes a strong but very ambivalent political statement. It strikes republican tones but also affirms benevolent aristocratic authority. Its heroes are from the elite; the prisoners do not free themselves, nor are they freed by a revolutionary populace. Fidelio is politically malleable: it could be—and was—pushed and pulled in diverse ideological directions in the rapidly changing series of German states and social systems across its turbulent 20th century.

I will discuss representative productions across the ideological spectrum, from the Weimar Republic into the new Millennium. With the help of slides and videos, I will show how interpretative strategies based on staging and lighting, sets and costumes, the elimination of musical numbers and spoken dialog, and new text and stage action were employed in order to cast the opera in a particular ideological light. In the Federal Republic of Germany in the late 20th century, productions often critiqued and negated the utopian character of the work, in particular the conclusion. Fidelio interpretations do not only reflect the political circumstances of their time and place; they express and help shape them as active cultural agents. Fidelio is, as the music critic Klaus Spahn for Die Zeit remarked, “the always relevant work, the eternal object of German self-questioning.”

 

Glenn Stanley

Glenn Stanley studied European history and musicology at Columbia University in New York, where he received a PhD in musicology with a dissertation on the German oratorio in the 19th century. He taught at the University of Connecticut from 1990 until his retirement in 2018, and has also taught as a guest professor at Columbia University, McGill University, the University of Salzburg, and the Humboldt University and Free University in Berlin. He joined the faculty of the Barenboim-Said Akademie in 2019. Stanley is a leading Beethoven scholar, contributing numerous essays, notably on Fidelio and on the keyboard music, to German, American and English publications. He organized international Beethoven conferences at the Carnegie Hall New York and the University of Connecticut, edited the Cambridge Companion to Beethoven (2000) and is currently editing Beethoven in Context for Cambridge University Press. He has published studies on the music of Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Wagner and has written extensively on music historiography and German music criticism, including the articles on these topics in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.