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Colleen Ann Reardon
Regents of the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA 92617-3066)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2011 – 6/30/2012

A "Sociable Moment": Sienese Opera Patronage and Performance, 1669-1704

Sociability--a term that seeks to define the various ways in which human beings interact with one another--has attracted scholars in a number of fields as a way of understanding the development of civil society and the public sphere in early modern Europe. Sociability studies have informed research into trends among opera-going audiences in the 19th century, but no one has yet attempted to look at the entire operatic enterprise as a search for the appropriate "sociable moment." My project uses Georg Simmel's thesis concerning the egalitarian nature of the "sociable moment" to examine operatic patronage, production, and performance in Siena from 1669-1704. Such a thesis challenges the standard thrust of patronage studies, which look to find self-interest at every possible turn. Sociability studies provide a new way to frame the pan-Italian expansion of opera during the late seventeenth century and to understand how opera functions in contemporary culture.