The Dutch vocal play was introduced in the 18th century, under the impuls of enlightenment thinking, and underwent many transformations in the next century and a half, under the influence of political, musical, literary and linguistic developments. Nevertheless, operas and vocal plays on Dutch librettos in 20th and 21th century research are all too often dismissed as historical sidetracks with little artistic merit. There is a lack of extensive scientific research into the literature and music-historical position of Dutch vocal plays and operas.
This research project studies the evolution and function of the Dutch vocal play and Dutch opera in the Southern Netherlands, between 1759 and 1907. It aims to fill an important gap in our knowledge of the Dutch musical drama. The research will concentrate on five Dutch vocal plays or operas from Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels that are representative of the aforementioned evolutions and which alternately play the role of aesthetic experiment, illuminate ideal of civilization, linguistic proof, expression of romantic sentiment, expression of Belgian and/or Flemish (proto)nationalism, or a combination of all that. The project also breaks down the artificial gap between the eighteenth and the nineteenth century, on the one hand to indicate the gradual evolutions in the long term, and on the other to reveal the nuances of that evolution.
Promoters: Koen Kessels, Jan Dewilde & Hubert Meeus