Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts


Music Performance

First Advisor

Dr. Everett McCorvey


The boundaries of opera, as in all art forms, are constantly being re-evaluated. This analysis examines one of the most recent developments in opera-the use of film as source material, and connections to the film world- through analyzing three operas: Austrian composer, Olga Neuwirth’s opera, Lost Highway, Chinese-American composer, Tan Dun’s opera, The First Emperor, and acclaimed American film composer, Rachel Portman’s opera, The Little Prince. Each of these works exemplifies the modern relationship of opera and film in different ways. To classify these newly film-influenced works, the term cinemopera is used in describing operas connected to or influenced by film.

Analytical techniques and historical perspectives, as well as revealing how these three operas are associated with the film world through their composers, source materials, and styles are the tools utilized to establish the characteristics of cinemopera as an operatic subcategory. Also, a definition and discussion of intertextuality in these operas reveals not only their cinematic features, but their ties to common practices in music history. Lost Highway is one of the most intertextual works containing sound effects, electronic music, and drawing heavily upon the David Lynch film of the same name as its source material. The First Emperor is an interesting study in modern ethnomusicology and contains many links to film in its source material as well. The Little Prince has a different kind of intertextuality than the preceding two operas because its source material is a French children’s book. However, since its composer, Rachel Portman, is a very distinguished film composer, it represents many elements of style commonly found in cinemopera.

Finally, opera as a business is changing due to its convergence with film. The visual aspect of opera productions is of increasing importance, as is a singer’s credibility in the role they are portraying. Singers must look their parts much more so now than even two decades ago. As cinemopera is explored herein and its effects on the business are discussed, so are the elements of style which clearly serve to classify an opera as cinemopera.