Law and Opera pp 345-359 | Cite as

Law, Opera, and the Baroque Mentality Contradictions, Paradoxes, and Dialogues

  • Marcilio Toscano Franca Filho
  • Mariana Lima MaiaEmail author


Opera can be seen as a baroque form of art, since it established itself at the same time and setting baroque aesthetics arose, and as such it bears all the contradictions inherent to this artistic movement. Both are the offspring of early modernity’s heavily visual culture from which they emerged and share its fundamental contradiction: visual spectacle’s unique ability to move individuals, such as opera’s capacity to overwhelm the senses, was the cause of both devotion and disdain. This mentality—the baroque mentality—also played out in the law field, as the political and legal power of the then rising absolute state held visual spectacle as an important tool of legitimation. Contemporary society and law, ridden with screens are also marked by visuality and its axienties, a phenomenon Richard Sherwin calls ‘digital baroque’. In this context, law also becomes a feared spectacle. Trusting law’s power and ability to make just decisions thus becomes a challenge similar to trusting images. This article aims at drawing a parallel between the challenge Tragédie em musique—early French opera, a courtly amusement used as propaganda of the ancien régime—faced in order to affirm its legitimacy as a form of art and law in the age of the digital baroque’s quest for legitimating its power, and also at demonstrating the way in which the concept of sublime, the aesthetical solution for Tragédie em Musique’s challenge, can also be a useful tool for solving contemporary law’s ultimate quest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcilio Toscano Franca Filho
    • 1
  • Mariana Lima Maia
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB), Law SchoolJoão PessoaBrazil

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