Skip to main content
Professor Clair Rowden PhD MA BMus (Hons) FHEA

Professor Clair Rowden

PhD MA BMus (Hons) FHEA

Professor of Musicology

+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 musical theatre 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:

  • Forthcoming May 2021, Keynote address, 6th Brazilian Conference on Musical Iconography, Unicamp, Campinas, Brazil
  • Forthcoming April 2021, Research symposium, Birmingham Conservatoire
  • 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)

    • Carmen, Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre (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, Open Theology, Diplomatica: A journal of diplomacy and society
    • 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 on Saint-Saëns in Britain (to coincide with the Centenary Conference 'Saint-Saëns beyond Borders', which I am co-organising with Prof Barbara Kelly at the RNCM, February 2022) and on singers' jewellery in the long nineteenth-century.

    Recent publications include Opera and Parody in France, 1860-1900 (Brepols, 2020) and Carmen Abroad, co-edited with Richard Langham Smith (Cambridge University Press, 2020). This collection is supplemented by the continually evolving website and online publication platform, 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.

    I am co-director of CIRO (Cardiff Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama) with Dr Monika Hennemann and work closely with Welsh National Opera and its Friends association to provide a range of knowledge transfer events around the operatic seasons and on more broader issues relating to opera. I have organised (or co-organised) a number of events and symposia:

    • Forthcoming September 2021, Caruso Centenary public event, in collaboration with Cardiff University Leverhulme Fellow Dr Barbara Gentili, Welsh National Opera
    • February 2020, Discover Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes, Public event, Cardiff University
    • September 2019, Carmen: Performance, Performers and Productions, Public event, Cardiff University
    • March 2019, Understanding Opera: Adventures in Surtitling, 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'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.