The Art of Love: Symposium

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Jackman Humanities Institute

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The Art of Love is an opera in “naïve style” composed by Norbert Palej, with a libretto based on the poetry by Ovidius Naso. It was commissioned by the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI), and is performed by young artists and scholars at the University of Toronto in partnership with the U of T Faculty of Music and Department of Classics, the Jackman Humanities Institute, and the Centre for Opera Studies & Appreciation (COSA Canada).

This ninety-minute ode to pleasure is to be presented multi-dimensionally, as a virtual opera premiere and associated online symposium. The libretto is formed from a sequence of stories from Ovid’s Medicamina Faciei Femineae, Somnium, and Ars Amatoria. The ancient poet showcases hedonistic fulfillment of beauty and lust in tales of self-fashioning and self-fulfilment through magic and women’s facial cosmetics, presenting them in the soaring flight and desperate abyss that constitute the ecstasy of romantic love. The underlying theme is the juxtaposition of external and internal beauty, of appearance and essence, of pretense and true identity, of egoism and altruism, of dream and reality. The opera will be presented online in a hybrid of animation and pre-recorded singing in Classical Latin.

In tandem with the virtual premiere of The Art of Love, this symposium brings together classicists and composers to explore (1) Ovid’s Art of Love then (Mariapia Pietropaolo, McMaster University) and now (Alison Keith, University of Toronto); and (2) the compositional process (Norbert Palej, University of Toronto); Darryl Edwards (University of Toronto, COSA).