In their monograph Opera’s Second Death from 2002, Žižek and Dolar seem to join the illustrious company of cultural critics and musicologists, from Adorno to Gary Tomlinson, tolling the death knell for the operatic genre: with the advent of the 20 th century and the radical critique of the humanist premises that opera relied upon, the genre, so the story goes, had become at least anachronistic, if not outright reactionary. In the first section of my article I intend to not only counter this claim, but also to directly engage with a recent attempt on the part of musicologist Nicholas Till to frame from a Deleuzian perspective contemporary opera’s renewed ability to deal with the metaphysical premises of the genre. In this respect I will suggest how, in spite of his own thesis on opera’s death, Žižek’s ontological thinking aptly frames the kind of metaphysics that operatic production is dealing with today. In the second section I intend to examine in more detail a case in point, even if a twisted one, for a recent musical reflection of opera’s metaphysical ties. In his late work Aristaeus, the German composer Hans Werner Henze attempts to reimagine the orphic myth outside its humanist framework. By closely reading this work against the grain of Henze’s earlier retelling of the Orpheus story in the form of a ballet, I will highlight how in Aristaeus he “traverses the fantasy” of his own humanism, seeking to directly engage at both the dramatic and the musical level with an Hegelian/Žižekian dimension of absolute negativity.
Keywords Eric Santner  Giorgio Agamben  Humanism  Metaphysics  Modernism  Opera  Orpheus
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Bíos: Biopolitics and Philosophy.Roberto Esposito - 2008 - Univ of Minnesota Press.
The Open: Man and Animal.Giorgio Agamben - 2003 - Stanford University Press.

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