Call for papers / Phantoms of the opera: Music and performance on screen

Call for papers / Phantoms of the opera: Music and performance on screen

Opera House in 1937

Barbican Cinema and Guildhall School of Music & Drama
London, 15-17 June 2018

This conference will be the culminating event in our three-year research networking project funded by the Leverhulme Trust in the UK. Our aim has been to trace the routes and mechanisms by which the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (Gaston Leroux, 1909-10) evolved from a collection of clichés about a particular institution at a particular time in the late nineteenth century into a global cultural phenomenon—and, especially, a number of substantial but discrete and geographically distant screen traditions in the twentieth.

This call for papers seeks to bring into dialogue international and interdisciplinary perspectives on the mediation of various kinds of musical-theatrical performance through criticism, fiction, adaptation, cinema, television and the internet, and on the various kinds of cultural transfer involved.

Proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the subject, and from any disciplinary perspective, are welcome, as well as proposals for other kinds of presentation (conference panel, masterclass, practice as research, etc.). In the list below, ‘music theatre’ should be understood to include genres ranging from opera to cabaret and beyond. We are particularly interested in discussing:

  • music theatre in Latin American screen cultures, especially mid-twentieth-century cinema and telenovela;
  • music theatre (and works for the screen featuring music theatre) as a point of contact between Far-Eastern and Western musical cultures, especially in colonial and post-colonial readings;
  • music theatre on screen as a way of understanding the assimilation and inflection of cultural heritage in Western and Central Europe (institutions, repertories, etc.);
  • the use of music in crossovers between screen genres (comedy, horror, romance, etc.) and spin-offs;
  • changing attitudes to music theatre as reflected in successive remakes for the screen;
  • memes and tropes in repeated adaptations for the screen;
  • audience reception of musical-theatrical performance represented in different media; also fan work as evidence of that reception;
  • internet echoes of The Phantom of the Opera, especially those related to the enormous success of the 1986 musical (fandom, multi-platform crossover, mash-ups, etc.).

The conference will run alongside a programme of screenings and talks on the subject at the Barbican Cinema. Details will be published shortly, but screenings are likely to include

  • The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, USA 1925, with a new score)
  • Yeban gesheng/Song at Midnight (Ma-Xu Weibang, China 1937)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Arthur Lubin, USA 1943)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Terence Fisher, UK 1962)
  • Il mostro dell’opera (Renato Polselli, Italy 1964)
  • Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, USA 1974)
  • The Phantom Lover (Ronny Yu, Hong Kong, 1995).

It is anticipated that some of the papers presented at the conference will be published in the form of a collection of essays, and discussions with various academic publishers have already taken place. Please indicate whether your contribution has already been, or is likely to be, published elsewhere. The language of the conference will be English.

Please enter an abstract (250-300 words) and a brief professional biog (50-100 words) including institutional affiliation and publications, if any, into this Google form by 2 April 2018 at the latest. Any queries should be addressed to the Network Facilitator, Almudena Castro, at

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