Date of Award
Master of Music
School of Music
The music of female characters in the great masterpieces of opera often demonstrates resistance to and undermines the abuse they have historically received in opera plots. The Mexican folktale that my opera, The Tragedy of La Llorona, draws inspiration from plays on many of the same tropes historically found in female characters in opera including madness, sexuality, and lack of agency. This led to research into the portrayal of women in opera as part of my pre-compositional process and my desire to access this tale free from the traditional 'marianismo' and 'machismo' narratives it is associated with and which are found in many operas. This is demonstrated through a brief historical overview of the portrayal of women in opera including the scholarly work of influential musicologists on the subject such as Susan McClary. The primary justification for my claim, however, is direct musical analysis of excerpts from three operas with prominent female characters (Desdemona, Sieglinde/Brünnhilde, Mélisande) that were as well influential to the development of my opera. The central claim that the music of female characters resists being cast aside in opera plots was born out of the process of creating the characters for my own opera. The ultimate goal of this paper, therefore, is to give a more intimate understanding of my opera by surveying important musical and literary themes and influences before presenting the work as it currently stands.
Barnidge, Daniel Aaron, "Listen to the River: Dolores, Ophelia, and Female Resistance in Opera" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 457.
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