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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 8, 2006

UI Opera Studies Group Lecture On Fat And Lazy Gods Is Nov. 13

The UI Opera Studies Group will sponsor a lecture by David B. Rosen, professor emeritus at Cornell University, titled "'Fat and Lazy Gods': Religion in Puccini's Operas," at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13 in the Gerber Lounge of the English-Philosophy Building on the UI campus. This event is part of an ongoing Opera Studies Group lecture series.

From the beginning of Puccini's work through Madama Butterfly (1904), which was composed in the middle of his 40-year career as an opera composer, Puccinis operas manifest a strain of anticlericalism and skepticism about religion. This is most evident in "Tosca," but is also evident in "Madama Butterfly" and other works. These operas refer to a period of anticlericalism in Italian culture beginning before the annexation of Rome in 1870 and the Pope's resistance to the unified Italian state. Furthermore, this anticlericalism was gendered, and the split between agnostic and anticlerical men and devout women is projected in Puccini's works of the period. Later in life, Puccini turned away from anticlericalism to view religion in a more positive light in the works, "La fanciulla del West" (1910) and "Suor Angelica" (1918), posing the question of how to account for the sudden change of his religious outlook.

Rosen specializes in Italian opera of the 19th and early 20th centuries and has research interests in Mozart's concertos, Britten's operas, and film music as well. He edited "Verdis Messa da Requiem" for the series The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, as well as writing Verdi: Requiem (Cambridge Music Handbooks). More recent projects include a study of the contemporary staging manual of Verdis Un ballo in maschera; a co-edited volume of essays dedicated to Andrew Porter; and for the Cambridge Opera Journal, "Verdi Forum," and Studi Pucciniani.

The University of Iowa Opera Studies Group, affiliated with UI International Programs, was established in 1999 as a forum to foster the study of opera and related genres from interdisciplinary perspectives. The group's purpose is to bring together scholars who have a special expertise or interest in opera to share their views on various issues associated with research and performance of operatic works. For more information, visit:

For more information on the series or special accommodations to attend any of the lectures, contact Katherine Eberle, Opera Studies Group co-director, at 319-335-1675 or

This is one of a series of events being held on the UI campus as part of International Education Week Nov. 13-17. To view a complete schedule of events, visit: and click on International Education Week 2006.

International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

ONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Katherine Eberle, 319-335-1675; Writer: Erin Vaughn.