New Directions in European History Study Group
Silver Professor; Professor of History, New York University
This lecture will consider the huge cultural phenomenon of operas about Turks that played out across the stages of Europe from the 1680s to the 1820s. Though the best-known of these operas, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio," is still widely performed, most of these operas about Turks are unknown today. They include operas by such important composers as Handel, Rameau, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, and Rossini, as well as many others. The lecture will try to understand this cultural phenomenon in the geopolitical context of European-Ottoman relations and the intellectual context of the Enlightenment; it will also address the significance of such operas for thinking about Christian-Muslim relations, piracy and captivity, harem and gender politics, and enlightened despotism in eighteenth-century Europe.