Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera

Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera

by Naomi André


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The early 19th century was a period of acute transition in operatic tradition and style, when time-honored practices gave way to the developing aesthetics of Romanticism, the rise of the tenor overtook the falling stars of the castrati, and the heroic, the masculine, and the feminine were profoundly reconfigured. These transformations resounded in operatic plot structures as well; the happy resolution of the 18th century twisted into a tragic 19th-century finale with the death of the helpless and innocent heroine—and frequently her tenor hero along with her. Female voices which formerly had sung en travesti, or basically in male drag, opposite their female character counterparts then took on roles of the second woman, a companion and foil to the death-bound heroine rather than her romantic partner. In Voicing Gender, Naomi André skillfully traces the development of female characters in these first decades of the century, weaving in and around these changes in voicings and plot lines, to define an emergent legacy in operatic roles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253217899
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 02/13/2006
Series: Musical Meaning and Interpretation
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Naomi André is Associate Professor in the School of Music at the University of Michigan.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Hearing Voices
1. Sounding Voices: Modeling Voice and the Period Ear
2. Haunting Legacies: The Castrato in the Nineteenth Century
3. Meyerbeer in Italy: The Crusader, the Castrato, and the Disguised Second Woman
Interlude: Queens, Hybridity, and the Diva
4. Taming Women's Voices: From Hero to Pageboy
5. Women's Voices in Motion: Voices behind the Romantic Heroine
Coda: Looking Ahead to Risorgimento Heroism

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