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AAP Interdisciplinaires 2016 - E. Bousquet, dir.

Digitally Editing the Theatrical Sources of Lyric Operas

Friday 10 March 2017, by Emmanuelle Bousquet

Our objective is to apply, for the first time, new digital technologies (specifically the electronic edition of source-texts and what is known as Digital Humanities) to the genetic analysis and edition of the many source-texts, and fragments of writing, generated during the creative process of an opera. This combination will allow us to develop novel conceptual frameworks and to renew the study of operatic works through the input of digital tools. Our scientific approach is both theoretical and technical; our aim is to strengthen the multidisciplinary and transversal aspects of our research, and to adapt our principles of analysis to the artistic field in general, and to lyric art in particular. If we are to understand the origins of a work as clearly as possible, we must consider the full complexity of its genesis, including the underlying though patterns and the creative process that brought it into being. To the finalized and “closed” text, – in our field the score and the libretto, – we may add the enriching study of the open, creative process of writing. Indeed, the superposition of voices is an essential part of lyrical creation. Analysing the work of an opera composer implies factoring in the many other voices that took part in the creative process. We must consider the drafting of the score and the libretto, the literary, visual and kinetic material required before a performance, as well as the rewritings that may have occurred after stage rehearsals; all these elements enhance the opera’s genetic textual file. Although vocal plurality has always been fundamental to operatic creation, it has by no means played a static role; on the contrary, this dimension has evolved throughout the history of opera, and especially during the crisis undergone by the genre at the beginning of the 20th century. The composer sometimes takes on the role of the author, or the relationship between composer and editor changes, or the set designer gains more prominence. If we only study the written texts (libretto, score, production notes), they tend to disappear or to fuse together into models that do not concord with the rules of staging in vogue before the Second World War. Faced with this problem, the elaboration of a double genetic framework, combining both creation and reception theory, creates a dynamic structure of analysis that may yet be developed further. However, the input of technology in genetic theory leads to quantitative and qualitative changes in the analysis of creative processes. Our intention is to develop – through the primary task of structuring and transcribing the source material of a completed opera – an innovative method for digitally editing its genetic sources and thus allowing us to understand the whole creative process. This approach will engender new concepts, methods and techniques, and it will enable us to re-evaluate the legacy of documents preserved in theatrical collections and archives (including manuscripts, typescripts, librettos, scores, editions, translations, notebooks, mail, staging instructions, photographs of the staging, accounts, models, records, videos, films, etc.). Our research will be based on the analysis of archives from the Théâtre Graslin and the Théâtre de la Renaissance (which is no longer standing), preserved in the municipal archives of Nantes. As we have mentioned, our scientific ambitions require considerable preliminary analyses: we must study handwritten and typed documents to understand production mechanisms, elucidate the authors’ approach to their work and the procedures that went into the act of creation, measure the amount of interaction between the texts (libretto, score and scenography), read and listen to them simultaneously, so as to clarify the individual and collective changes that took place within the creative process.

À propos de l'auteur

Emmanuelle Bousquet

Maître de Conférences en langue et littérature italiennes

Humanités numériques, génétique des textes (méthode et recherche appliquée au domaine de l’opéra : livret, musique, mise en scène) et étude du processus créatif appliqué à la médiation culturelle.

Courrier électronique : Emmanuelle Bousquet

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