Monday, July 16, 2012

Old School Orientalism

Detail from The Turkish Bath (1862) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

On this date in 1782, Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio was premiered.

It's a fun opera, with many impressive arias and clever compositional techniques. But what always captures my interest is how it illustrates European fascination with "oriental" culture. Harems, eastern despots, and exotic customs, these are some of the hallmarks of the genre, frequently played for laughs.

And for erotic imaginings. The "Orient" was an almost fantastic place where Reason and Order were overwhelmed by the sensual and the decadent. So, artists and composers rose to the challenge of satisfying European desires for this Dionysian vision, filled with spices and odalisques.

Detail from The Women of Algiers (1834) by Eugene Delacroix

So, I figured we could look at a few classic images and listen to some music evocative of Oriental fantasies.

Here are some vids:

"Marche pour la Ceremonie des Turcs" by Jean-Baptiste Lully

"Martern aller Arten" from Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio

"Turkish March" by Beethoven

"La Turque" by Michel Corrette


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