Nicol Oddo

University of Catania, Italy;


Since the annus horribilis of 2020, passing through worldwide lockdowns, Opera houses were forced to put live performances on standby and to experiment with the new notion of becoming fluid through «digital liveness» (Gemini et al. 2020). New ways of being present and experiencing live performances have emerged. Many European and North American Opera houses have worked on new online engagement strategies. In addition, the last few years can be regarded as the revival of opera adaptations for television and cinema, known as film opera (Citron 2000, 2010; Senici 2009, 2019; Grover-Friedlander 2005). This hybrid audio-visual product has been made since the first decade of the XX century but, after its successful surge in the 30s, 40s and early 50s has gradually declined. Italy’s Opera houses, and specifically Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome, have been promoting this fluid practice of contamination between opera and cinema since July 2020. 

The starting point was a peculiar Rigoletto, a staged film opera by the Italian director Damiano Michieletto – famous mostly abroad for its innovative approach and modernisation of repertoire works – which is at the same time a staged performance and a film opera. It’s a staged performance because the chosen place for the production, the Circo Massimo of Rome, served as an en-plein-air theatre for the singers with props, sets, costumes, lights, stage movements and for the audience. It’s also a film opera firstly because the product was re-mediated live on National television and, secondly, because Michieletto re-mediated some details of the performance, made by three steady cams on stage, and some pre-recorded videos on the big screen in the back of the stage and on the product accessible by tv audience as well. 

This paper will first aim to add new consideration on the matter of contemporary opera staging (especially of repertoire operas) and how to make sense of the complexity of it given the dramaturgical use of different media on stage (Havelková 2021, Del Gaudio 2020, Yaskevitch 2020, Golianek 2020, Novak 2018). Then, the article will examine dramaturgically and aesthetically the staged film opera of Rigoletto by Michieletto to investigate its non-duality of genre and the peculiarity of the production in the present operatic horizon.

Keywords: Contemporary opera staging; Media on stage; Digital technology; Film opera; Damiano Michieletto.


Nicol Oddo received in 2017 her bachelor’s degree in Modern Literature at the University of Catania and in 2019, in the same university, her master’s degree in Communication of Culture and Performance with a grade of 110/110 cum laude and a dissertation about Vincenzo Bellini’s operatic works through media (radio, cinema and television). In 2019, she was a member of the “Venice Classics” jury at the 76th Venice International Film Festival. Since 2020 she is a PhD candidate in Sciences of Cultural Heritage and Production at the University of Catania with a project about contemporary opera staging practices and the case study of the Italian director Damiano Michieletto.