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The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century : 1800-1920 - Rachel Cowgill

The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century


By: Rachel Cowgill (Editor), Hilary Poriss (Editor)


Published: 27th October 2011
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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

Introduction Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss


Chapter 1. Divas and Sonnets: Poetry for Female Singers in Teatri arti e letteratura Francesco Izzo

Chapter 2. Idealizing the Prima Donna in Mid-Victorian London Roberta Montemorra Marvin

Chapter 3. Prima Donnas and the Performance of Altruism Hilary Poriss

Chapter 4. Staging Scandal with Salome and Elektra Joy H. Calico

Chapter 5. Screening the Diva Mary Simonson

Chapter 6. The Prima Donna's Art of Politics James R. Currie

INTERLUDE 1: The Prima Donna Creates Julian Rushton


Chapter 7. Gautier's "Diva": The First French Use of the Word James Q. Davies

Chapter 8. Artistic Experiment and the Reevaluation of the Prima Donna in George Moore's Evelyn Innes Grace Kehler

Chapter 9. Ars moriendi: Reflections on the Death of Mimi Helen Greenwald

Chapter 10. Lakmé's Echoing Jewels Gurminder Kaur Bhogal

INTERLUDE 2: Breath's End: Opera and Mortality Terry Castle


Chapter 11. "Attitudes with a Shawl": Performance, Femininity, and Spectatorship at the Italian Opera in Early Nineteenth-Century London Rachel Cowgill

Chapter 12. From Diva to Drama Queen Tracy C. Davis

Chapter 13. The Prima Donna as Opera Impresario: Emma Carelli and the Teatro Costanzi, 1911-1926 Susan Rutherford

Chapter 14. "In Imitation of My Negro Mammy": Alma Gluck and the American Prima Donna Susan C. Cook

Chapter 15. "The Finest Voice of the Century": Clara Butt and Other Concert-Hall and Drawing-Room Singers of Fin-de-siècle Britain Sophie Fuller

Chapter 16. Galli-Curci Comes to Town: The Prima Donna's Presence in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Alexandra Wilson


ISBN: 9780195365870
ISBN-10: 0195365879
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 27th October 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 26.8 x 14.3  x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.71