The Performing Arts in the Belle Epoque

1 – 29 November 2017

The Belle Epoque (c.1890–1914) was a period of extraordinary brilliance and glamour in the performing arts. No actors had ever been as famous as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, no dancers as famous as Pavlova and Nijinsky, no tenor as famous as Caruso and no pianist as famous as Paderewski. Much of the unprecedented celebrity of these artists has to do not only with their extraordinary talents but also with changes in society and innovations in technology – railways and steamships, photography, the telegraph and mass circulation newspapers and finally the gramophone and moving film. Under the influence of Wagner, Ibsen, Diaghilev and Isadora Duncan many artists saw themselves no longer as mere entertainers but as revolutionaries capable of transforming society. This course will examine the careers of these great artists putting them in the context of social and historical change and developments in the arts in general.