Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD defence

The reflections of memory

Wednesday 12 December 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

An account of a cognitive approach to historically informed staging

Baroque operas are in continuous need of a renewal of their interpretations and if the Historically Informed Performance movement has been making a mark on the musical side, it is still pertinent to wonder whether or not this musical phenomenon is also applicable to staged performance. If so, the stage director’s role can be the vector of an alternative approach, by exploring the vestiges of the original stage productions while illuminated by the principles of the aesthetics of the period and what he knows of the stage practice of the period in question. 

These guidelines bring the approach to cognitive philology, because, in addition to the interest for the material evidence that remains, it focuses on the way the Baroque era was thinking when it aimed to elaborate opera as an artistic language. It takes into consideration the structures of the symbolic that can be perceived in the material culture of the Baroque era in order to produce all items and ideas necessary to stage a production today. But this approach is also cognitive by the way it acquires knowledge and understands historical facts through thought, experience, and the senses.

The research is dedicated to Gilbert Blin’s work in staging operas of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nourished by a decade of productions for the Boston Early Music Festival, the first objective of his dissertation is to enable a better understanding of both his creative and interpretive processes in the operatic field. The main research question he attempts to answer in his dissertation can be phrased as follows: how can a post-modern stage director use historical research for creative purposes?

The title of this dissertation, The Reflections of Memory, is the appellation Gilbert Blin has been giving to his current approach as an artist and constitutes a conceptual answer to this question.

Artistic presentation

On Tuesday 11 December at 17h00 Blin will present his artistic work for the Opposition Committee at the Academy Building in Leiden.The artistic presentation takes the form of a Wunderkammer where remains from the past (books, engravings, objects) coexist with performing elements (designs, models, costumes) for his recent staged productions. 

* Image: Boston Early Music Festival Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise - credit: Kathy Wittman


  • Prof. A.G.M. Koopman
  • Prof. F.C. de Ruiter


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

Artistic presentation/ PhD Defence

Artistic presentation

Artistic presentation for the Opposition Committee 
Wunderkammer The Reflections of Memory
Tuesday 11 December 17h00
Curator's Room and Rector's Room, Academy Building, Rapenburg 73 in Leiden
Limited access, only by appointment, registration compulsary:acpa@hum.leidenuniv.nl 
Wunderkammer The Reflections of Memory
Tuesday 11 to Thursday 13 December 10h00 – 16h00
Curator's Room and Rector's Room, Academy Building, Rapenburg 73 in Leiden
Access only by appointment: acpa@hum.leidenuniv.nl 

Public Defence
Wednesday 12 December, 16h15, Senate Room, Academy Building, Leiden
It is not required to make a reservation.

This website uses cookies.  More information.