[Milton-L] University of Toronto Quarterly 79:3 is now available online

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Fri Aug 20 14:09:24 EDT 2010

Now available Online 

University of Toronto Quarterly Volume 79, Number 3 /2010 



This issue contains: 


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x687423l423w4227/> Introduction

Andrew Dubois



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x687423l423w4227/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/xr33644506276775/> Prima la
musica, poi le parole? Operatic Challenges to Word–Music Relations

Linda Hutcheon, Michael Hutcheon

Abstract: The relationship between words and music in opera has been a
contested one right from the very start. Over the history of this form of
musical drama, the relative importance of each component has shifted
radically, often provoking operatic ‘reforms’ aimed at righting what was
intended, at opera's birth, to be a balance of the two. But to complicate
matters further, opera does not consist only of words and music; unlike the
lied or lyric poem, opera aims to tell, or rather to show, a more extensive
story. It does this not only through the words, but also, in complex ways,
through the music itself (which ‘speaks’ directly to and is heard by the
audience, not the characters on stage). But one further complication: the
interaction of words with music is not alone in communicating the narrative
of opera: through its dramatic performance, opera deploys multiple semiotic
systems – visual (lighting, costumes, sets), gestural, auditory, etc. – to
enact its story. Using examples from the past and present of opera, this
study investigates these multiple complications and their consequences for
theorizing the relationship of words to music more generally.



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/xr33644506276775/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x201415050887lq0/> Reading at the

William Germano


Abstract: Opera is a musical-theatrical form dependent upon language, but
access to that language is mediated by texts and technologies. The singing
body alone cannot disclose the sung text. The earliest surviving libretti
demonstrate that reading played an important role in the audience's
engagement with the new form, and over the ensuing four centuries reading
has been opera's complicated but open secret. From seventeenth-century
printed libretti to electronically delivered titles, reading has been a
central component of performance practice and reception. This essay examines
the history of reading at the opera – in the audience and within the
diegesis – not as a prop for but as a function of operatic expression.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x201415050887lq0/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x88407540235853v/> ‘A local
habitation and a name’: Britten Adapts Shakespeare

Katherine R. Larson, Lawrence Wiliford


Abstract: Benjamin Britten was acutely sensitive to the significance of
place in his operas – a feature that lies at the heart of his adaptation of
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This essay argues that the revision
choices preserved in the libretto, coupled with Britten's musical setting,
reveal a determination to blur the boundaries between forest and Athens to
an even greater degree than Shakespeare does. Unlike Shakespeare, Britten
situates the bulk of the opera's action in the woods, foregrounding the
play's dreamlike qualities while also drawing attention to the composer's
fascination with the threshold between dreams and reality. In examining the
impact that the ‘local conditions’ of the woods have on Britten's
interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, this essay focuses in
particular on the transformation of Shakespeare's ‘rude mechanicals’ into
Britten's ‘rustics.’ Bottom and his fellow actors, who together bridge the
gap between the human and the supernatural, exemplify the extent to which
the textual changes and the rich soundscapes of Britten's opera reframe the
characters and realms of Shakespeare's famous comedy.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x88407540235853v/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x204505143501710/> ‘Alles, was
ist, endet:’ On Dramatic Text, Absolute Music, Adorno, and Wagner's Ring

Sherry D. Lee

Abstract: The crux of the operatic genre has always been the perennially
problematic relationship between text and music. Richard Wagner attempted to
solve this conundrum in his new art form of music drama – first embodied in
his monumental Ring cycle – which he theorized in gendered terms as a union
of poetry (male) and music (female), an imagined marriage between the
qualities of Shakespearean drama and Beethovenian symphony. But according to
Theodor Adorno, the very notion of symphonic music, which follows its own
musical logic, is antithetical to the genre of opera, which demands that
music construct itself according to its relationship to language. From the
impasse between the demands of the operatic art form and the increasingly
autonomous music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he
theorized the end of opera itself in the age of modernism. This article
entwines Wagner's concept of music drama, the musico-dramatic character of
Erda who prophesies the end of the world in the Ring, and Adorno's diagnosis
of opera's fatal condition in the decades following Wagner, to examine the
principle of ending in opera, and of opera, and how the former can be read
as a prefiguration of the latter.



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x204505143501710/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x3220232853813u6/> Opera as
Translation: Ezra Pound's Le Testament

Kimberly Fairbrother Canton

Abstract: In Ezra Pound's Le Testament, the first of his three operatic
compositions, the relentless drive for linguistic precision is undermined by
an ironic recourse to the imprecise, even mystical, signifying capacity of
music and rhythm. Given Pound's lifelong engagement with translation, it is
likely not surprising that his turn to opera was essentially literary in
purpose, serving the poet as a means to ‘translate’ the category of poetic
language he termed melopoeia (in this case, François Villon's Le Testament).
What is surprising, however – particularly given Pound's notorious fascist
sympathies and his own esoteric poetic style – is Pound's determination to
make this poetry accessible, intellectually and materially. Though Le
Testament unapologetically valorizes Villon's poems for their unique
difficulty, the use of opera (and later radio opera) as the means of
translation reflects Pound's desire to make Villon's poetry ‘sing’ to the
masses – calling into question the common conflation of modernist difficulty
with modernist elitism.



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/x3220232853813u6/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/883264577658r817/> The H(e)art of
the Matter: Modernist Theatrical Liberalism in Pal Joey

Andrea Most

Abstract: Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, first- and second-generation
American Jewish writers and composers working in popular entertainment
largely resisted the modernist despair so fashionable among many of their
contemporaries, choosing instead to devote themselves to an optimistic set
of truths promised by American liberalism and expressed in the theatre. By
the late 1930s and early 1940s, however, the lingering Great Depression,
rising anti-Semitism, fascism, and the Second World War led to the hollowing
out of many of the ideals of the immigrant generation and their children. A
number of Jewish writers, many of whom had made their reputations defining
and celebrating an ideology defined in this essay as theatrical liberalism,
began to echo their modernist contemporaries. Just as modernist poets and
novelists experimented with form in order to raise questions about truth, so
modernist writers of popular plays and movies used the heavily formulaic
nature of their genres to shock audiences into questioning the assumptions
of theatrical liberalism upon which these popular forms relied. This essay
explores how Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's 1940 musical Pal Joey uses
the popular genre of the backstage musical to raise questions about the
viability of theatrical liberalism in an era plagued by fascism, Nazism, and



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/883264577658r817/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/1054630610r47l63/> Swinging
Modernism: Porter and Sinatra beneath the Skin

Ira Wells

Abstract: Since it was first performed in the 1936 film Born to Dance, Cole
Porter's “I've Got You under My Skin” has proven to be an important pop
standard for a wide range of artists, not the least of whom is Frank
Sinatra. When polled, Sinatra's fans and critics frequently rank “Under My
Skin” among the greatest ever Sinatra recordings. Commentators have tried to
explain the song's immense appeal in terms of its supposedly
straightforward, if feverish, sexuality. This essay suggests that a turn
back to Porter's lyrics reveals a more complicated picture. “Under My Skin”
is less about achieving heterosexual unity than it is about probing and
confronting an interior multiplicity – much as the textual surface of
Sinatra's recording reveals two constitutive but finally discrete and
irresolvable American musical selves. This essay returns Porter's lyrics to
their historical and literary context to argue that “Under My Skin”
represents a popular expression of the modernist anxiety over the split self
– a trope that characterizes many of Porter's great songs, which contain the
high and the low, the bottom and the top, beneath the same shining skin.



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/1054630610r47l63/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/h540067g42045024/> A Change Ain't
Gonna Come: Sam Cooke and the Protest Song

Christopher Trigg

Abstract: Although Sam Cooke's ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ is inextricably
linked to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, it has an uneasy
relationship with the genre of the protest song. Where protest songs enact
the social change they seek to accomplish, Cooke's composition places its
singer at a distance from an imminent, unspecified change. While protest
songs are confident that the development they desire will materialize, the
musical and lyrical structure of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ implies that the
change in question may never arrive. Insofar as it depends upon contained
progression – thematic and harmonic movement that is both linear and
cyclical – the song could be described as a blues. Like many blues,
moreover, it engages with the theme of human mortality: death, which every
individual expects but never experiences, could be the ‘change’ to which the
title and refrain refer. At the same time, change is the very word through
which the lyric participates in the protest genre. If it were to be stricken
from the text, the song would have no political referent, nothing to take
its meaning beyond the confessional and personal.



DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/h540067g42045024/>



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