Dr Francesco Milella
- School: School of Music
- Mentor: Dr Tomás McAuley
Opera, Enlightenment and empire in the late-colonial Spanish Atlantic, 1770-1820
My project explores how the Atlantic circulation of Italian opera contributed to the crisis of the Spanish American empire. This project takes this bidirectional perspective to analyse how Italian opera became interconnected with Enlightenment debates in ways that undermined the stability of the Spanish empire: it explores not only the reception and reinterpretation of Italian operas in late-colonial Mexico but also Europe’s fictionalisation of Mexico’s early colonial history in Italian operas of the same period. In doing so, this project aims to understand how Italian operas acted on both sides of the ocean as conveyors and sounding boards of new dichotomies such as equality-authority, civilisation-barbarism, rationalism-religious fanaticism promoted by the Enlightenment. While shedding a new light on a forgotten period in the globalisation of Western music, the project aims also to demonstrate how Italian operas became the protagonist of a circular movement of culture which destabilised the authority of Spain promoting discourses and social practices that collided with the Ancien-Régime culture of the Iberian world and contributed to its decline.