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Effects of Opera Music from Brain to Body

A Matter of Wellbeing

  • Discusses the beneficial effects of melodrama on wellbeing and mental disorders associated with impaired quality of life

  • Increases awareness and knowledge of opera therapy improving multidisciplinary co-operation and integration

  • Confirms the therapeutic intervention improvement in neurological diseases relying on solid neuroscientific data

Part of the book series: Neurocultural Health and Wellbeing (NHW)

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Table of contents (10 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xi
  2. ACT I Medicine Goes at Opera

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Pathology and Lyrics: Diseases and Illnesses in the Opera

      • Vittorio Alessandro Sironi, Andrea Scarduelli
      Pages 3-13
    3. Physicians, Charlatans, Healers, and Apothecaries in Operas

      • Vittorio Alessandro Sironi
      Pages 15-29
    4. Caring Through Music: Music Therapy and Opera Therapy

      • Livio Claudio Bressan, Vittorio Alessandro Sironi
      Pages 31-41
  3. ACT II Relationship Between Music and the Brain

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 43-43
    2. “Va Sossopra Il Mio Cervello” (My Brain Goes Up): Neurology and Psychiatry in the Opera

      • Alessandro Porro, Francesco Brigo, Lorenzo Lorusso
      Pages 45-56
    3. Neuro-Musicology of Opera

      • Francesco Brigo, Alessandro Porro, Lorenzo Lorusso
      Pages 57-66
    4. The Singing Brain: Words and Music in the Opera

      • Francesco Brigo, Alessandro Porro, Lorenzo Lorusso
      Pages 67-77
  4. ACT III Diseases that Affect Workers in the Opera World

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 79-79
    2. Operatic Inspiration, Genius and Madness

      • Roberto Mazzagatti
      Pages 81-94
    3. Work and Disease in Italian Operas

      • Michele A. Riva
      Pages 95-108
    4. Playing and Singing: A Demanding Profession

      • Michael Belingheri, Maria Emilia Paladino, Michele A. Riva
      Pages 109-122
  5. ACT IV Finale

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 123-123

About this book

This book explores the connection between melodrama and medicine from multiple perspectives. Neuroscientists study the relationship between opera and brain functioning in the light of new findings in the fields of neurophysiology, neuroimaging, cognitive science and neuro-musicology; clinicians investigate the therapeutic potential of music, especially in the field of treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases; medical historians analyse the representation of diseases and those who cure diseases within operas; occupational doctors report descriptions of diseases that affect workers in the opera world and particularly focus on psychiatric and psychological alterations.

Opera, with its instrumental and vocal accompaniment, is considered the most complete form of theatrical performance. However, little is known about the mechanisms of brain activity under the influence of melodrama on singers, musicians, and listeners. The use of neuroimaging techniques has enabled a better understanding of the neuronal mechanisms and circuits involved during an opera performance. Over the past 20 years, melodrama has increasingly been used as a therapeutic approach in various neurological and neuropsychiatric pathologies, such as depression, cognitive impairment, and even coma. 

The book also discusses the ways in which melodrama affects professionals involved in music and interventions to reduce or alleviate occupational diseases, leading to improved health and higher life satisfaction. The ultimate goal is to improve therapeutic interventions in neurological diseases and professional disorders, relying on solid neuroscientific data. 

This book will be of great interest to neurologists, neurobiologists, psychiatrists, occupational doctors and therapists in music.


  • Art Therapy
  • Brain Function
  • Music Therapy
  • Neurological Science
  • Opera
  • Opera Therapy
  • Professional Disorders

Editors and Affiliations

  • Neurology Unit, A.S.S.T. Lecco-Merate, Merate, Italy

    Lorenzo Lorusso

  • School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca; Occupational Health Unit, Fondazione IRCCS San Gerardo dei Tintori, Monza, Italy

    Michele Augusto Riva

  • History of Medicine, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy

    Vittorio Alessandro Sironi

About the editors

Lorenzo Lorusso, MD is the Head of the Neurology & Stroke Unit at Merate Hospital of the Neuroscience Dept. - A.S.S.T. -Lecco, Italy. He has main interest in Neuroimmunology and Neurological rare diseases. He was past President of the International Society for the History of the Neuroscience (ISHN) and he was appointed Chairman of the History Committee for the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) organizing seminars on History of Neuroscience in the main European cities. He has taught History of Medicine for the University of Milan and he participated as a teacher for courses on the relationship between music and medicine for the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is a melomaniac. Author and co-author of several papers published on national and international journals and of chapters for different books.

Michele Augusto Riva, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of History of Medicine at the University of Milano-Bicocca and Director of the Occupational Health Unit of the Fondazione IRCCS San Gerardo dei Tintori in Monza. He conducted research in different fields of history of medicine, particularly history of neurosciences and history of occupational health. In the period 2009-2015, he was appointed as Chair of ICOH Scientific Committee on History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Diseases and during his mandate he co-organized several international conferences around the world on the history of Occupational Health. Author or co-author of about 250 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, in the last decade he published different papers on the relationship between medicine and melodrama, being opera definitely one of his passions from a young age.

Vittorio Alessandro Sironi, MD is specialized in Neurosurgery. His main fields of interest are the treatment of several neurosurgical and neurological diseases and neuro-psychiatric disorders, but he is also a medical historian, a medical anthropologist, a writer and essayist, author of more than 30 books and several papers published on national and international scientific journals. He is a lecturer on the relationship between music and the brain at the University of Milano-Bicocca and he is a melomaniac. He is the Scientific Director of the Research Centre on the History of Biomedical Thought of the University of Milano-Bicocca, coordinator of the Study group on the History of Neurosurgery within the Italian Society of Neurosurgery, founder and co-director of the book series Storia della Medicina e della Sanità (Laterza publisher; History of Medicine and Health Care), international collaborator of the Drug Chain Research Programme at the GEIRSO of the Université du Quebec, Montréal and Vice-President of the Association International et Interdisciplinaire sur la Chaîne du Médicaments.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Effects of Opera Music from Brain to Body

  • Book Subtitle: A Matter of Wellbeing

  • Editors: Lorenzo Lorusso, Michele Augusto Riva, Vittorio Alessandro Sironi

  • Series Title: Neurocultural Health and Wellbeing

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Medicine, Medicine (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-34768-9Published: 02 October 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-34771-9Due: 16 October 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-34769-6Published: 01 October 2023

  • Series ISSN: 2731-4464

  • Series E-ISSN: 2731-4472

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XI, 129

  • Number of Illustrations: 10 b/w illustrations, 25 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Neurology, Psychiatry, Neurosciences, Neuropsychology, History of Medicine, Music

Buy it now

Buying options

eBook USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access