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The Operatic and the Everyday in Postwar Italian Film Melodrama$
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Louis Bayman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748656424

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748656424.001.0001

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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

(p.128) Chapter 3
The Operatic and the Everyday in Postwar Italian Film Melodrama

Louis Bayman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter details the profusion of mass cultural forms that characterised post-war Italy, and how their incorporation into Italian film melodrama contributes towards making it a distinctly hybrid form. The chapter first discusses cineopera, opera films whose mismatch between theatrical performance and narratives of disappointment is melodramatic. It goes on to define how Italian melodrama can be considered operatic through employment of vocal expressivity, confrontations and staging in films that do not feature musical performance. It then discusses how melodrama builds upon a heritage of opera, literature, theatre, song, popular presses and iconography that determines its character, making melodrama operatic, theatrical, musical, and iconographic. The second half of the chapter examines how this popular cultural aesthetic, discernible across Italian cinema, can be found in contrasting manifestations in the melodramas of Raffaello Matarazzo and Luchino Visconti. These two directors were responsible for some of the most commercially successful melodramas and are objects of most of the scholarship on Italian melodrama, and the study analyses them according to the main themes informing the rest of the book – realism, emotionality, operatics, and as typifications of and comments upon popular life itself.

Keywords:   Opera, Cineopera, Operatic, Mass culture, Sceneggiata, Fotoromanzo, Letteratura d’appendice, Intertextuality, Matarazzo, Visconti

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