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Dr Clair Rowden PhD MA BMus (Hons) FHEA

Dr Clair Rowden

PhD MA BMus (Hons) FHEA

Reader in Musicology

School of Music

+44 (0)29 2087 0462
1.02, 33 Corbett Road
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a graduate of Goldsmith's College, University of London, and gained my PhD at City University, London in 2002.

My research deals mainly with opera and nineteenth-century France, and I have published widely on the critical reception and cultural history of opera, stage production, dance, iconography and press caricature.

I am co-director of CIRO (Cardiff Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama) which works in close collaboration with Welsh National Opera and other performing and professional institutions, and I regularly write programme notes and give pre-performance talks for major opera houses and festivals in Europe.

I have held visiting fellowships in France, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico and Finland.


Education and Qualifications

2009: FHEA, Cardiff University

2002: PhD City University, London

1996: MA (Performance), City University, London

1994: DALF, Institut français, London

1992: BMus (Hons), Goldsmiths' College, University of London

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Royal Musical Association (Council member, 2011-2013)
  • Member of the American Musicological Society

Academic positions

  • Visiting lecturer at City University
  • Visiting lecturer at Université de Rouen
  • Visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London

Speaking engagements

I regularly give conference papers and invited lectures, as well as participating in conference programme committees and chairing conference sessions. Papers given since 2015:

  • Carmen faces Paris and the Provinces’, in Carmen Abroad panel, Royal Musical Association annual conference, University of Manchester/Royal Northern College of Music (September 2019).

  • ‘Mapping time onto space: Challenges in the development of’, with Henry Morgan, Musical Mapping, School of Music, Cardiff University (June 2019).

  • ‘Carmen Abroad’, Sibelius Academy, University of Arts, Helsinki (May 2019).

  • ‘Operatic parody in the works of Hervé’, Hervé révélé par les lieux de musique, Palazzetto Bru Zane, Centre de musique romantique française, Venice, Italy (January 2019).
  • ‘The Sopranos, Parisian style, 1869’, Opera as Institution: Networks and Professions (1700 – 1914), Department of Musicology, University of Graz, Austria (November 2018).
  • ‘The Sopranos, Parisian style, 1869’, Celebrity/Obscurity, 44th Annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium, Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, California (October 2018).
  • ‘Catholicism and Moral Philosophy in Nineteenth-Century France’, Keynote lecture, L’Abbé Gounod: French sacred music during the Romantic era, Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini – Palazzetto Bru Zane, Centre de musique romantique française, Lucca, Italy (October 2018).
  • ‘Point trop n’en Faust !’, Gounod sous les feux de la rampe, Opéra-Comique – Palazzetto Bru Zane, Centre de musique romantique française, Paris (June 2018).
  • 'Carmen reception in Paris 1875-1904’, Carmen Singer of the World Conference, Cardiff University (June 2017).
  • 'Glitter and be gay: a singer's jewels', Operatic Objects, OBERTO conference, Senate House, London (March 2017).
  • '"C'est la fille d'un roi...". Caroline Miolan Carvalho and Christine Nilsson: Parisian princesses?', American Musicological Society Annual Meeting, Louisville, USA (November 2015).
  • 'Du grand au petit: Faust on Parisian stages in 1869', Opera, Politics, and Parody in Nineteenth-Century France, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA (November 2015).
  • 'Parodying Tannhäuser on the Parisian popular stage, 1861’, The théâtre musical léger in Europe: From the Operetta to the Music-hall, Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini, Lucca, Italy (October 2015).
  • 'The Second Swedish Nightingale: Christine Nilsson, a very Nordic talent', OBERTO conference, Oxford (September 2015).

Pre-performance talks and TV appearances:

  • Les vêpres siciliennes, Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre (February 2020).

  • 'Discover Verdi's Les vêpres siciliennes', Friends of WNO, Cardiff University (February 2020)

  • Carmen, Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre (September 2019).
  • 'Carmen: performance, performers & productions', Friends of WNO, Cardiff University (September 2019).
  • 'Refitting the slipper: Massenet's slant on the age-old tale of Cendrillon', with Richard Langham Smith, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester (December 2017).
  • Proms Extra in conversation with Clemency Burton Hill and Richard Langham Smith, Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, Imperial College Union, London (August 2017).
  • Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne, with Hugh MacDonald, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester (December 2016).
  • 'Party like's it's 1899', Revolution and Romance: Musical Masters of the 19th Century BBC FOUR (June 2016).

Committees and reviewing

  • Peer reviewer, Cambridge Opera Journal, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Music and Letters
  • Peer reviewer, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Ashgate (Routledge)
  • Grant reviewer, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK)
  • Editorial board, Studies in Music, Dance and Theatre Iconography, Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, Vienna




















  • Rowden, C. S. 2002. 'Hérodiade': Church, State and the Feminist Movement. Presented at: Tenth International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, Bristol, UK, July 1998 Presented at Samson, J. and Zon, B. eds.Nineteenth-Century Music: Selected Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference. London: Ashgate pp. 250-278.




At undergraduate level, I teach modules on French and Italian opera in the nineteenth century, the business of opera, musical theatre, and music in Paris 1850-1900.

I supervise undergraduate dissertations on a wide range of topics from comparative literary studies of opera (e.g. Alexandre Dumas fils' La Dame aux camélias and Verdi's La traviata), through Russian nineteenth-century ballet, via the mega-musical in London's West End during the Thatcherite era, to Beyoncé and modern feminism.

At Masters level, I contribute to a number of team taught modules on gender, reception history, press critcisim, micro-history, archives, intertextuality and intermediality, programme note writing, academic writing, etc.  

My research focuses on nineteenth-century opera and France, from music editing and archival study to microhistory and reception studies, and including operatic staging and dance, iconography and gender.

Current research projects are Opera and Parody in France, 1860-1900 (Brepols, forthcoming 2020) and Carmen Abroad, co-edited with Richard Langham Smith (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2020). This collection is supplemented by the website, supported by an BA/Leverhulme grant, which richly documents - via a global map, timeline, images and individual information pages - performances of Carmen across the world before 1945.  

Recent publications include the co-edited collection Musical Theatre in Europe 1830-1945 (Brepols, 2017) with Michela Niccolai.

I am co-director of CIRO (Cardiff Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama) with Dr Monika Hennemann and have organised and co-organised a number of events and symposia:

  • March 2020, The languages of opera, Public study day, Welsh National Opera
  • June 2017, Carmen Singer of the World, international conference in collaboration with BBC Cardiff Singer of the World
  • February 2017, Opera creation, translation and surtitling, Public study day, Welsh National Opera
  • November 2016, International Artistic Creation during WWI, National Museum Cardiff
  • May 2016, Mametz Wood, poetry and song, Public study day in collaboration with Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre
  • May 2014, International Interdisciplinary Symposium: Translation in Music, Cardiff University

The Commemorating WWI: Conflict and Creativity project (2016) was supported by an AHRC Cultural Encounters Fellowship.

I am an international steering group member of the research network 'France: Musiques, Cultures 1789-1918', and have been responsible for the preparation of on-line editions of various corpora of nineteenth-century French music criticism made available as part of the FMC's creation of a valuable web resource for researchers.

I am the Music Book Placement Editor for H-France.


I'm happy to supervise PhDs on all areas of opera studies, both musicological and practice-based research, as well as French music and music in France during the long nineteenth century, and gender studies.