Institut für Musikwissenschaft




2nd transnational opera studies conference

5–7 July, 2017

University of Bern, Switzerland

As a final message, the the scholarly committee of the 2nd Transnational Opera Studies Conference – tosc@bern.2017 wrote to all those who sent a proposal following the initial call for papers, as well as to all those who participated in the conference whether as a speaker, chair or listener, as follows:

The success of the two first conferences (214 submitted abstracts for Bologna, 2015, 223 submitted abstracts for Bern, 2017) bodes well for the project's vitality and its future continuity as a biennial event (taking place in odd-numbered years).
To our great pleasure, the next three meetings have now been confirmed, and are as follows:
27-29 June 2019 Paris, coordinated by Isabelle Moindrot and Céline Frigau Manning (Université Paris 8, Research Group "Scènes du monde, Création, Savoirs critiques")
2021 Bayreuth, coordinated by Anno Mungen and Kordula Knaus (Universität Bayreuth)
2023 Lisbon, coordinated by Luisa Cymbron and David Cranmer (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical)
The 3rd Transnational Opera Studies Conference – tosc@paris.2019 will thus take place in Paris (France, not Texas!), on 27-29 June 2019. The call for papers will be sent out in the second half of 2018, along with information about the new Scholarly Committee.
With warm greetings to all, and hoping to see you in Paris,
Marco Beghelli – Céline Frigau Manning – Anselm Gerhard – Axel Körner – Gundula Kreuzer – Vincenzina C. Ottomano – Arne Stollberg – Cristina Urchueguía




Marco Beghelli (Università di Bologna)
Céline Frigau Manning (Université de Paris-VIII)
Anselm Gerhard (Universität Bern)
Axel Körner (University College London)
Gundula Kreuzer (Yale University)
Vincenzina C. Ottomano (Universität Bern)
Arne Stollberg (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Cristina Urchueguía (Universität Bern)


Anselm Gerhard (Universität Bern)
Vincenzina C. Ottomano (Universität Bern)



Valeria Lucentini (Universität Bern)

The call for papers of tosc@bern.2017 received 223 proposals from 30 countries: USA(58), UK (28), Italy (20), France (19), Germany (18), Austria (15), Canada (7), Spain (6), Portugal (6), Brazil (5), Australia (4), Czech Republic (4), Switzerland (4), Greece (4), Poland (3), Finland (3), Russia (3), Sweden (3), Israel (3), Slovakia (3), China (3), Japan (2), Colombia (1), Ireland (1), Denmark (1), Cyprus (1), Holland (1), New Zealand (1), Lithuania (1), Tunisia (1).

The topics proposed spanned all historical periods, as well as touching on various issues related to opera in its widest sense. Seventy papers have been accepted for the Conference.


THE tosc@bern.2017 AWARD

The tosc@bern.2017 award for the best paper by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career is was assigned to James O’Leary, Assistant Professor of Musicology at Oberlin College and Conservatory (actually the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States, situated in the Great Lakes Region in the South West of Cleveland (Ohio)). Entitled “Kurt Weill’s ‘Idiotic Theories’ and ‘Human Development’,” O’Leary’s paper imaginatively challenges the so-called “two Weill thesis”—the long-held idea that Kurt Weill, transnational composer par excellence, turned away from his avant-garde aspirations after his emigration to the United States, and instead catered to the American entertainment industry. Investigating the genesis and reception of the 1946 musical Street Scene, O’Leary argues instead that Weill began to shift his focus from what he now called “Brecht’s idiotic old theories” of the avant-garde to the notion of human development, and that he continued an experimental strain of Broadway Musical that sought to engender critical political thought through emotional rather than intellectual engagement. Combining archival findings and theoretical considerations, O’Leary sounds out a ‘third way’ between the radically unconventional avant-garde (as traditionally understood by Adorno and others) on the one hand, and ‘mere’ conventionality on the other: his paper concludes that Weill in America “used convention unconventionally,” and thereby fostered what he dubs a “popular avant-garde.” The scholarly committee of tosc@bern.2017 was unanimous in its appreciation of this very convincing and stimulating paper – particularly in view of the foremost importance of “the uses of convention” and the dialectic relationship between conventions and their transgression in so many operatic genres, as well as its relevance for transnational opera studies. O’Leary ends with a call to investigate more broadly the hidden, “popular” strand of avant-garde composition. It is up to him and future scholars to take up this call; but it is up to us to congratulate James O'Leary for his successful paper, which may be published in the Swiss Yearbook of Musicology 2018.