Prof Nicholas Till
|Post:||Director and Leverhulme Research Fellow (Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre)|
|Other posts:||Professor of Opera and Music Theatre (Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre, Music)|
|Location:||Silverstone Edb 216|
|International:||+44 1273 678693|
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I am a historian, theorist and practitioner working in opera, music theatre and related cross-disciplinary arts.
I studied History and Art History at Cambridge (BA/MA), and then worked professionally in theatre for fifteen years. I was awarded a doctorate in music by the University of Surrey in 1999 for my book Mozart and the Enlightenment (1992). In 2004 I joined the Music Department at Sussex from Wimbledon School of Art in London, where I was Course Leader for the MA in Scenography, and also taught history, theory and practice in theatre, visual art, film and video, also having taught theatre studies at Queen Mary, University of London.
During my career as a theatre and opera director I worked for most of the main UK opera companies, and was also responsible for a number of independent premieres, including the first UK productions of Viktor Ullmann's Terezin opera The Emperor of Atlantis (Imperial War Museum, 1985) and Cavalieri's sacred drama La rappresentatione di anima e di corpo of 1600 (London International Opera Festival, St Martin in the Fields, 1989). I have worked as a writer and director of new works for the English National Opera Studio, Royal Opera Garden Venture, Stuttgart Opera, Festival Rhizome Rennes, DMCE Paris, etc. I have also worked as a director of community and education projects in music, opera and theatre for Glyndebourne Opera, National Theatre, Barbican Centre, Royal Opera, English National Opera, etc. In 1984 I mounted what is now recognised to have been the first large-scale devised community opera project in the UK, commissioned by two London boroughs and presented in Covent Garden Piazza with 200 performers. I have also published widely about the theory and practice of education and community arts.
I have worked extensively as a broadcaster for radio and TV, contributing to review programmes such as Front Row and Nightwaves, writing and presenting talks, features and documentaries for Radios 3 and 4, and acting as consultant and presenter for the TV documentary 'The Great Composers: Mozart" (Omnibus, BBC 2, 1997).
Since 1998 my artistic activities have included work as co-artistic director of the experimental music theatre company Post-Operative Productions, working in both performance and audio-visual installation. The work of Post-Operative Productions was discussed on the BBC Radio 3 arts programme Nightwaves in 2003, and in 2004 the company was shortlisted for the Samuel Beckett Award for experimental theatre. Our 2007 installation 'The National Taste' was commissioned by English Heritage for Picture House atBelsay Hall in Northumberland, along with works by the Brothers Quay, Mike Figgis, and John Byrne and Tilda Swinton.
My theatre work is discussed in two chapters entitled ‘Per un teatro post-operistico. Adorno, Badiou, Till’' and 'Nicholas Till e l'(anti)manifesto' in a new book by Francesco Ceraolo Registi All’Opera: Note sull’etstetica della regia operistica, published by Bulzoni (Rome) in 2011, which includes a complete translation into Italian of my 2004 manifesto for a post-operatic music theatre entitled "I don't mind if something's operatic, just as long as it's not opera".
I have taught at institutions such as the Royal College of Music, Britten-Pears School Aldeburgh, Cal Arts (Los Angeles) and Stanford University. In 2001 I was Visiting Professor in Opera at UCLA (Los Angeles), and in January 2006 I gave the Neumann Lectures at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
I am editor of The Cambridge Companion to Opera Studies, published in October 2012. 'In both the clarity of its organization and the uniformly high standard of the individual essays, this is an outstanding collection.' Times Literary Supplement
I am Director of the Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre, and I hold the first Chair in Opera and Music Theatre in the UK.
I currently hold a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to undertake research into early opera and early modernity. I will be on research leave for three years from September 2012, but will continue to supervise doctoral students during this period.
Mozart and the Enlightenment. Extracts from reviews.
'To his remarkable study of Mozart and Mozart's operas he brings not only musical sensitivity and knowledge, but also wide reading and research into the history and culture of the 18th century. His study of the Enlightenment exemplifies the Enlightenment's own project of trying to unify the fragmented world of knowledge, and see the world as a whole... Brilliant and searching, the depth of Till's research into the cultural context of the operas, and the originality of his interpretations, ought to banish for ever some of the sillier and shallower descriptions of these works. An exceptional book that illuminates both the composer and his epoch.' Anthony Arblaster, The Guardian.
'An erudite mix of music, history, philosophy, biography, sociology, and even depth psychology adding up to a triumphant study of Mozart's supreme masterworks...Few books provide such a satisfying exploration of the thoughts and feelings from which great art is born. The subtlety and richness of Till's argument cannot be conveyed by precis: A feast for the intellectually adventurous.' Kirkus Review, USA
'A dazzling tapestry of history and interpretation...The attraction of this book is that it situates Mozart the man within the cross-currents and contradictions of 18th-century thought without ever losing sight of Mozart the artist, who held it all together in immaculate, seductive synthesis.' James H. Johnson, Times Literary Supplement.
'One of the most substantial reconsiderations of the man and his music to have been published for some time... The panoply of scholarship Mr Till unfolds in his analysis of the relationship of words to music, bringing in most of the Enlightenment philosophers and writers, is awe-inspiring, as is his knowledge of the reforms of the Emperor Joseph II and the whole contemporary Viennese scene.' Michael Kennedy, Sunday Telegraph.
'This is a masterly and wonderful book. It is born out of a deep love for Mozart the phenomenon, the human being, the creator. His spiritual and social context is brought to life in a wonderfully painstaking but never dull way; one full of imaginative insight. His creative fire, which often seems in biographies like a sort of cometary flash from nowhere is made to seem comprehensible as part of his age and time but not explainable in terms of it. It is a book that demands work and effort but so much the better for that. Truly excellent.' S.Moore, Amazon Customer Review.
'This is one of the best books I've ever read. It is endlessly fascinating, and eminently readable'. 'Magid', Googlebooks review.
Professor of Opera and Music Theatre.
Director of The Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre
Leverhulme Research Fellow
Community and Business
I regularly give talks at opera, theatre and music events in the UK and Europe, and contribute frequently to TV and radio arts programmes.
My general research interests include historical, theoretical and creative investigations of the relationship between music and other arts, opera and music theatre, site-specific art, art and technology, cultural history and critical theory.
Current research projects include:
- theories and practices of "post-operatic" music theatre
- opera, myth and modernity: early opera and early modernity
- cultural phenomenologies of seeing and hearing
- music and constructions of subjectivity
- musical skill and labour theories of value from early capitalism to post-fordism
- sonic art, space and place
- the aesthetics of boredom
I have supervised PhDs to completion on the following topics:
- Documenting Live Art
- Theatre for Development in Pakistan (with Filippo Osella)
- The Relationship between Musicology and Performance (theory/practice project)
- The role of an opera house Composer-in-Residence (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral project with Glyndebourne Opera)
- The Sonification of the Body in Live Art Performance (theory/practice).
- The Musicalisation of Theatre (theory/practice)
- Aesthetic Experience in Music (with Bjorn Heile)
Current PhD projects
- The Animal in Opera (theory/practice)
- Korean Popular Music and Transnational Cultural Flows (with Ben Highmore)
- Music for Early Avant-Garde Film (theory/practice, with Ed Hughes)
I have examined PhDs on: Michael Fried and Minimalism (Wimbledon School of Art); ritual and religion in the operas of Berg and Richard Strauss (Kings College, London); the post-Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk (Queen Mary, UK); French literary influences on Mozart's Don Giovanni (Kings College, London); the reception of Don Giovanni in early 19th-century Germany (Arhus University, Denmark); experimental music theatre (Brunel University).
Till, Nicholas (2013) Stefano Gervasoni's Pas si: staging a music theatre work based on a text by Samuel Beckett. Contemporary Theatre Review, 23 (2). pp. 220-232. ISSN 1048-6801
Till, Nicholas (2013) A new glimmer of light: opera, metaphysics and mimesis. In: The legacy of opera: reading music theatre as experience and performance. Themes in theatre (7). Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 39-64. ISBN 9789042036918
Till, Nicholas (2012) The Cambridge companion to opera studies. Cambridge companions to music . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521671699
Till, Nicholas (2012) Hearing voices: transcriptions for the phonogram of a schizophrenic: music-theatre for performer and audio-visual media. In: Composed theatre: aesthetics, practices, processes. Intellect Books, Bristol and Chicago, pp. 185-199. ISBN 9781841504568
Till, Nicholas (2011) [Review] Michael Freyhan (2009) The authentic Magic Flute libretto: Mozart's autograph or the first full-score edition? Music and Letters, 92 (3). pp. 484-486. ISSN 1477-4631
Till, Nicholas (2011) Orpheus Conquistador. In: Opera Indigene: Re/Presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures. Ashgate, pp. 15-30. ISBN 978-0-7546-6989-0
Till, Nicholas (2010) Review: Magic Flutes and Enchanted Forests: The Supernatural in Eighteenth-Century Musical Theatre. By David J. Buch. Music and Letters, 91 (2). pp. 263-266. ISSN 0027-4224
Till, Nicholas (2010) Idomeneo and the background of the Enlightenment. In: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Idomeneo. OneWorld Classics. ISBN 9781847495396
Till, Nicholas (2010) "Oh, to make boardes to speak!". In: Theatre and Performance Design: A Reader in Scenography. Routledge, pp. 154-161. ISBN 978-0-415-43210-8
Till, Nicholas (2009) Stefano Gervasoni - Pas si. In: Pour une scene actuelle. L'Harmatton. ISBN 9782296107113
Till, Nicholas (2009) Review: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Cosi fan Tutte. Opera Quarterly, 25 (1-2). pp. 145-149. ISSN 0736-0053
Till, Nicholas (2008) Pas Si. Production of music theatre work by Stefano Gervasoni. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (2007) Modernity, Modernism and the Aporias of Opera. In: LA MUSIQUE ET LA SCÈNE: L'Ecriture musicale et son expression scenique au xxe siecle. L'Harmatton, Paris, 102-114.. ISBN 978-2-296-04492-0
Till, Nicholas and Cook, Kandis (2007) The National Taste: site-specific audio-visual installation,. [Show/Exhibition]
Till, Nicholas (2006) Hearing Voices: Transcriptions of the Phonogram of a Schizophrenic. For soprano and audio-visual media. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (2006) Investigating the Entrails: Post-Operatic Music Theatre in Europe. In: Contemporary Theatres in Europe: A Critical Companion. Routledge, pp. 34-46. ISBN 978-0-415-32940-8
Till, Nicholas (2005) On the Difficulty of Saying 'We': The Unheimliche Heimat in the Music Theatre of Christoph Marthaler. Contemporary Theatre Review, 15 (2). pp. 219-233. ISSN 1477-2264
Till, Nicholas (2005) Space, Time and Gender in the Film d'Art Carmen of 1910. In: Carmen: from Silent Film to MTV. Rodopi, pp. 9-21. ISBN 978-90-420-1964-5
Till, Nicholas, Chamberlain, F, Ellis, S, Mock, R and Whelan, JC (2004) Reflections on Practice as Research following the PARIP Conference 2003. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 24 (2). pp. 129-141. ISSN 14682761
Till, Nicholas (2004) 'First-Class Evening Entertainments': Spectacle and Social Control in a Mid-Victorian Music-Hall. New Theatre Quarterly, 20 (1). pp. 3-18. ISSN 0266-464X
Till, Nicholas (2004) 'I don't mind if something's operatic, just as long as its not opera: A Critical Practice for New Opera and Music Theatre. Contemporary Theatre Review, 14 (1). 15-24.. ISSN 1477-2264
Till, Nicholas (2004) Agamemnon Takes a Bath: libretto for opera by Hilda Paredes. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (2003) At Home with Art (revised version). [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (2003) Heiner Goebbels: Ein Strassenkampfer. In: Composers-in-Residence: Lucerne Festival, Sommer 2003. Stroemfeld Verlag. ISBN 978-3-87877-932-2
Till, Nicholas (2001) At Home with Art: Music Theatre for performer and CD player. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (2000) First Class Evening Entertainments: Rational Recreation for three performance artists, vocal quartet and electronic sound. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (1999) Silent Movie Opera (Carmen, 1910): Music Theatre for three singers, electronics and video. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (1998) Songs of Love & Desire: Music Theatre based on Monteverdi's Fourth Book of Madrigals for four solo voices and electronics. [Performance]
Till, Nicholas (1998) The Spectator as Performer: Thomas Schutte at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Performance Research, 3 (2). pp. 112-117. ISSN 1352-8165
Till, Nicholas (1998) The Uses of Gravity: The Everyday Sublime in the Work of Station House Opera. Architectural Design, 68 (7-8). pp. 12-15. ISSN 0003-8504
Till, Nicholas (1996) The Ear of Man Hath Not Seen: Reflections on Varese's Deserts with video by Bill Viola and Christian Boltankski's staging of Schubert's Winterreise. Performance Research, 3 (1). pp. 91-93. ISSN 1352-8165
Till, Nicholas (1992) Mozart and the Enlightenment: Truth, Virtue and Beauty in Mozart's Operas. Faber and Faber/W.W,Norton (USA) W. W. Norton & Co.; Reprint edition (30 Jun 1995). ISBN 978-0393313956
Till, Nicholas (1985) The Life and Times of Rossini. Midas Books. ISBN 0711909881