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The film-opera Aida (1953): intermediality and operatics

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This article offers an intermedial analysis of the film-opera Aida (dir. Clemente Fracassi, 1953) within the context of opera adaptation in Italian cinema. Drawing on theories of intermediality developed by Wolf and Rajewsky, it adopts and applies the intermedial subcategories of medial transposition, plurimediality and intermedial reference to the study of film-operas. By comparing the film Aida with the libretto and the score of Verdi's opera, the article first considers the medial transpositions of the text as well as the music. In a second layer of analysis, it examines plurimediality and intermedial references in the film-opera in order to evaluate the integration of operatic elements into the film.

The article concludes that the film-opera Aida represents a hybrid work of art situated between opera and cinema. Instead of attempting to record the opera in a naturalistic way, Fracassi presents an opera with filmic means, also by simulating and partially recreating operatic characteristics within the film's discourse. By demonstrating that Aida indeed offers a creative and cinematographically innovative adaptation of the opera's libretto and score, the article not only re-evaluates this film-opera, but additionally highlights the usefulness of the intermedial approach for the analysis of opera adaptations.

Keywords: Aida; Clemente Fracassi; film-opera; intermediality; opera adaptation; post-war Italian cinema (194555)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Bucknell University.

Publication date: 2009-05-01

More about this publication?
  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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