The Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Opera Studies showcases the multi-faceted art of opera. Bringing in opera singers, directors, and conductors, the initiative explores the place of opera in today’s art and society.

The Visiting Professorship in Opera Studies is made possible by the generous support of Clore Duffield Foundation and is hosted by New College, Oxford.

Christian Thielemann 2015-2016

Christian Thielemann is Principal Conductor of the Staatskapelle.

Christian Thielemann delivered a lecture and participated in two talks regarding opera from the conductor’s perspective, drawing upon his exceptional familiarity with Wagner and Strauss. A further discussion of the controversial nature of Regietheater was included in the series.

Renée Fleming 2013-2014

Renée Fleming is a world-renowned soprano.

As well as sharing her knowledge with Oxford student singers, Renee Fleming also spoke openly about the changes in the operatic voice in recent years. In the video to the right you can see Fleming discuss her experience of being an opera singer with the music journalist and radio presenter Edward Seckerson.

Gerard Mortier 2012-2013

Gerard Mortier was General Director of the Teatro Real de Madrid.

Mortier’s series throws light on the music festival as a reactor against social and political crises and a vehicle for cultural reconsideration of the arts. He speaks on how, in the decline of the Hapsburg Empire, the Salzburg festival emerged as a medium through which to explore existential truths as opposed to mere entertainment.

Mortier showed that the music festival is essentially a responsive domain. For, as society has entered into periods of flux throughout the centuries, likewise the music festival has sought to re-evaluate society’s relationship with the arts. This is reflected in festival programming, staging and location.

Bringing the historical journey right up to the present day, Mortier challenged the audience to consider what role the arts should play in this time of global economic crisis.

Joseph Volpe 2011-2012

Joseph Volpe is the former General Manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

In his lecture, entitled Whither Opera in the 21st Century, Volpe reviewed opera’s current state of funding, particularly in North America. He painted a gloomy picture, describing falling box office receipts and the increasing difficulty of attracting the support of wealthy philanthropists. He outlined the challenge of renewing the audience base for live opera, arguing that the situation seems less dire in Europe, where state subsidies, although shrinking, still underpin most opera houses, and where audiences remain buoyant.

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