The “operatic of opera” in music history pedagogy – exploring the temporal narrativization of opera

  • Liisamaija Hautsalo Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
  • Heidi Westerlund Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland


This study suggests that the pedagogy of music history for the professional training of musicians –
including opera singers and future opera composers – could benefit from applying narratology
to operatic analysis and acknowledging the “operatic of opera” in the organization of the artistic
materials as one possible pedagogical approach. By breaking with the canonized forms of music
history pedagogy, the subject content of opera history can be explored for instance through the
architecture of temporal narrativization, as made possible by the multiple media types incorporated
into opera. The study demonstrates this temporal narrativization through examples grouped into three
main categories: “temporal sameness”, “temporal incongruence” and “non-linear temporality”. While
most of the examples are drawn from the classical-romantic repertoire, the analysis also shows that
new pluri-medial ways of dealing with temporality and narration have been emerged in contemporary
opera. The study argues that by analyzing and illustrating the architecture of temporal narrativization
as one form of the “operatic of opera” in Western operatic practice, students will gain a better
understanding of the special nature of the pluri-medial nature of opera.

Original Articles
opera history pedagogy, temporality, operatic of opera, opera, music history