TRANSOPERA investigates the politics of opera in the Habsburg Empire between the Congress of ‘Transopera’ investigates the politics of opera in the Habsburg Empire between the Congress of Vienna and the outbreak of World War One. With its emphasis on transnational exchanges between the Empire’s different parts and on Austria’s multinational concept of state, my project challenges traditional narratives that have tended to highlight the role of opera as a tool of political nationalism. Instead, the Empire supported opera (the form and the repertoire) as a means to create cultural and intellectual connections between its different peoples, as well as between its political centre and its many peripheries. Following a cross-disciplinary agenda, my project responds to two distinct fields of scholarship so as to establish a new paradigm in our understanding of nineteenth-century opera: the contextual analysis of opera production and its reception; and new trends in Habsburg history, which have moved away from a narrow focus on ethnic and linguistic conflict to examine the role of national hybridity, of dynastic loyalty, and of social structures such as religion, class or gender that cut across national boundaries. ‘Transopera’ connects these two fields of scholarship through a shared challenge to methodological nationalism. It combines cultural and intellectual history to investigate five areas of opera production that deeply marked the monarchy's social, political and cultural life: the role of Italian opera in uniting the Empire culturally across its different crownlands and nationalities; the use of national vernaculars in opera production across the Empire; the function of opera in the context of dynastic representation; the role of grand opéra in staging historical narratives that connected the monarchy to events elsewhere in Europe; and finally, a focus on opera in the Empire’s Southern and Eastern peripheries, as a way of building bridges with its political centre.
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