20 December 2012


Speaker: Michael Forsyth

The talk will be held in English. There will be a simultaneous translation.

Illustrated with images by the internationally-renowned architectural photographer Ahmet Ertuğ, Forsyth’s talk will explore anew the social, musical and acoustic effects of opera-watching in Europe. . He will chart auditorium shapes, dimensions, materials, audience-performer relationship as well as musical requirements from the sixteenth century to the present day including reference to early opera-pageants incorporating staged naval battles, through to Mozart, Verdi and the operatic fantasies of Richard Wagner. The talk will integrate architectural and acoustic theory with fascinating stories from musical and operatic history. Splendid opera houses are illustrated from Palladio’s seminal Teatro Olimpico, Milan’s La Scala and Garnier’s Paris Opéra, together with charming eighteenth-century survivors, the court theatres of Marie Antoinette and Drottningholm, Sweden which sparked the turbulent tale of Verdi’s opera Un ballo in maschera. The talk will conclude with a glimpse of stunning twenty-first century opera houses at Lyons, Valencia and Oslo.

Michael Forsyth

Michael Forsyth studied architecture at the University of Liverpool and was awarded the Rome Scholarship in Architecture and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He now directs the University of Bath’s postgraduate Conservation of Historic Buildings Course. His award-winning Buildings for Music: The Architect, the Musician, and the Listener from the Seventeenth Century to the Present Day (MIT Press and Cambridge, 1985) was translated into several European languages and Japanese. Recent books include, with Ahmet Ertuğ, Palaces of Music: Opera houses of Europe and Domes: a journey through European architectural history (Ertug & Kocabiyik, 2010 and 2011). Forsyth has lectured extensively in Europe and North America.