CD81459 BBC Radio3 Feature--Why Do Women Die in Opera?
Why Do Women Die in Opera?
Broadcast 26 June 2010 BBC Radio 3.
Where would opera be without dead women? Associate editor of the Guardian
and opera fanatic, Martin Kettle, considers the fact that, be it through
suicide, murder, asphyxiation, drowning, execution, consumption, leaping
off a balcony or dying in an avalanche, when it comes to the most popular
tragic operas, to a disconcerting extent it's the sopranos, and
occasionally the mezzos, who get the chop.
Together with singers Natalie Dessay and Christine Rice, singer cum
director Catherine Malfitano, director David McVicar, ENO music director
Edward Gardner, The Royal Opera House's director of opera Elaine Padmore
and scholars Peter Conrad, Susan McClary and Margaret Reynolds, Martin
considers the social, historical, political and artistic contexts in which
to understand the dying operatic heroine in canonical operas including La
Traviata, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Carmen, Manon, Tristan and
Isolde, the Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser, Gotterdammerung, Salome, Elektra
He looks at how composers' own relationships with women might shed light
on their dying divas and he weighs up a certain feminist approach to
nineteenth century tragic opera which presents death as a punishment that
the female romantic lead is required (by a 19th century bourgeois
audience) to pay for living too passionately.
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