Voicing Gender (Paperback)

Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (Musical Meaning and Interpretation)

By Naomi Andre

Indiana University Press, 9780253217899, 230pp.

Publication Date: February 13, 2006

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Description

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 Andr 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.