Female characters assumed increasing prominence in the narratives of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century opera. And for contemporary audiences, many of these characters--and the celebrated women who played them--still define opera at its finest and most searingly affective, even if storylines leave them swooning and faded by the end of the drama. The presence and representation of women in opera has been addressed in a range of recent studies that offer valuable insights into the operatic stage as cultural space, focusing a critical lens at the text and the position and signification of female characters. Moving that lens onto the historical, The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century sheds light on the singers who created and inhabited these roles, the flesh-and-blood women who embodied these fabled "doomed women" onstage before an audience.
Editors Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss lead a cast of renowned contributors in an impressive display of current approaches to the lives, careers, and performances of female opera singers. Essential theoretical perspectives reflect several broad themes woven through the volume-cultures of celebrity surrounding the female singer; the emergence of the quasi-mythical figure of the diva; explorations of the intricate and sundry arts associated with the prima donna, and with her representation in other media; and the diversity and complexity of contemporary responses to her. The prima donna influenced compositional practices, determined musical and dramatic interpretation, and affected management decisions about the running of the opera house, content of the season, and employment of other artists--a clear demonstration that her position as "first woman" extended well beyond the boards of the operatic stage itself.
The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century is an important addition to the collections of students and researchers in opera studies, nineteenth-century music, performance and gender/sexuality studies, and cultural studies, as well as to the shelves of opera singers and enthusiasts.
"Take a handful of enduring diva myths; add a large bunch of creative risk-takers; mix with intellectual vigour; watch the myths fade. This essay collection from Cowgill and Poriss is as exciting as it is addictive, re-evaluating the prima donna-real, fictional, or both-as a compelling cultural force." --Katharine Ellis, Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London "Opera scholarship is no longer fixated on the composer and his/her efforts. Performers have become a center of interest, but what is a prima donna? or even a diva? While these essays, collected and superbly edited by Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss, provide no universal answers, their authors raise questions that will guide thinking for many years." --Philip Gossett, Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, The University of Chicago "Thorough research is evident, and excellent footnotes accompany each essay...Highly recommended." --Choice "An impressive collection of essays that will guide scholarship on vocal artists for years to come, and perhaps inspire more research on operatic centers not covered by the book...Will be of interest not only to musicologists and opera scholars, but also to anyone interested in those fascinating women who, evening after evening, brought opera to life." --Notes
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 29th June 2012
Dimensions (cm): 26.8 x 14.3 x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.71