Opera Singing and Fictional Truth

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (1):81-90 (2013)
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In this paper, I make two claims: an opera’s music, both vocal and instrumental, is part of the ontology of its fictional world, and song constitutes the normative mode of communication and expression in the fictional world. I refute Carolyn Abbate’s influential arguments that both of these claims are untrue. Abbate’s contention that opera characters do not have epistemic access to the music is based on false premises and gives rise to serious interpretive problems. My account of operatic metaphysics refines and extends the work of Edward T. Cone and Peter Kivy. Where I diverge from their respective accounts is in my contention that the orchestral music typically does not have a fictional author. Often its real author is the only agent to which it may be logically attributed.



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