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This study looks at nineteenth - and early twentieth-century opera as part of a culture which produced fascism as a crisis-state, and threatened to extinguish the genre as an influential and contemporary high form of art altogether. Jeremy Tambling highlights the themes of the cultural crisis through a detailed discussion of some dozen operas and a general overview of the works of Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss, and others, drawing on the writings of Nietzsche, Adorno, Benjamin, and Heidegger, for an understanding of the ideological background. Reading fascism as a political, intellectual, and psychological phenomenon, the author draws on the works of Bataille, Theweleit, and Kristeva, for discussion of proto-fascist and fascist thought, and for its relation to gender-politics. Resisting the cliches about Wagner or Strauss's relationship to the Third Reich, Tambling takes the opera out the hermetically sealed-off state in which it is normally discussed, and presents it as both complicit in, and in opposition to, the reactionary and regressive pressures that made up the 'culture of fascism', and those that tried to make opera part of the 'fascism of culture'.