American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies March 2020
CFP: 162. Painting the Moor Green: How Not to Talk About Race and Gender in
The Magic Flute (Roundtable)
Catherine Coppola, Hunter College of CUNY, ccoppola -at-

Misconceptions about race and gender have clouded reception of The Magic
Flute. The wish to revise or abandon this work unwittingly supports the
dual fallacies that we have progressed far enough to be shocked by its
offensive aspects and that Mozart’s time was oblivious to notions of racial
and gender equality. To interrogate those assumptions, this Roundtable is
not limited to formal papers; it can also include a platform for shared
ideas on how we might move forward in facing difficult questions as a
community of scholars, pedagogues, performers, directors, and presenters.

Many productions avoid racial issues by reducing the Moor to a sanitized
Other, as in Scarfe’s green creature and Peer’s tattooed skin. Yuval Sharon
retains blackness and adds commentary: “This doesn’t seem right, you don’t
tell stories like this today, why are we telling ourselves this story?” We
feel uncomfortable when Papageno is startled by the black skin of
Monostatos, yet, as Ava Duvernay captured in this year's film When They See
Us, the reaction to black skin produces horrendous consequences today.
Enlightenment notions of progress toward human perfection were not
monolithic, and racial and gender animus today leave us no moral high
ground from which to judge Mozart. The audience groans at the line, “women
do little but talk a lot,” yet female U.S. Supreme Court justices are
interrupted three times as frequently as are males. Thus, fidelity to the
text is not old-fashioned musicology: it facilitates new conversations
about long-term wrongs.

The panel invites contributions from all disciplines, including but not
limited to literary sources in the fairy tales by Wieland and others;
cultural history related to theater and to Schikaneder’s advocacy of the
Singspiel; 18th-century feminism; 18th-century views on race; Mozart and
freemasonry; production history, reception, and pedagogy.

Deadline: 15 Sep 2019

Conference website: 


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