Cover

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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-xvi

This book explores two extremes that may seem irreconcilable. At one extreme are a series of operatic moments that attempt something impossible: to represent music that, by the very terms of the fictions proposing it, remains beyond expression. Such music is so magical or fugitive that it escapes cages: we never hear it. ...

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Chapter One: Orpheus. One Last Performance

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pp. 1-54

Remember the death of Orpheus: attacked by crazy women, dismembered, he is finally decapitated, the worst indignity a singer could suffer. Crazy women throw his body parts in all directions. But his head, accompanied (in a new sense) by his lyre, floats down a river, its mouth still open in song. ...

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Chapter Two: Magic Flute, Nocturnal Sun

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pp. 55-106

For those who love perversity, here are some unorthodox interpretations of The Magic Flute, followed by an appalling fairy tale. The first is Melanie and Rudolf Heinz's Silberglöckchen, Zauberflöten (1992)—a collaborative book by a philosopher and a radical feminist theater artist who is also an opera singer.1 ...

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Chapter Three: Metempsychotic Wagner

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pp. 107-144

Theodor Adorno and Preston Sturges, philosopher and Hollywood director: they are not matched bookends, so one does not expect to find them paired. Yet in their separate ways they saw that Wagner's operas are marked by an obsession with eternal returns expressed most vividly in Tannhäuser and Parsifal, and that the obsession is far from benign. ...

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Chapter Four: Debussy's Phantom Sounds

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pp. 145-184

In the middle of a life spent thinking about music, Vladimir Jankelevitch wrote that "music is the silence of words, just as poetry is the silence of prose." With this lapidary remark, he bottled up essences of French Symbolist doctrines, their elevation of music above language, an impulse to urge poetry toward the condition of musical sound, and the sense that music is ineffable. ...

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Chapter Five: Outside the Tomb

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pp. 185-246

Having begun with a decapitation and a singing head, it seems appropriate to end with an amputated hand, an icon representing the nocturnal elements in musical performance: the threat of mechanism, that performers are lifeless animated objects. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 247-250

First, there are the institutions: the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and Princeton University. Their generous fellowships and sabbatical support enabled me to plan and to write this book. ...

Notes

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pp. 251-280

Sources for Figures

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pp. 281-282

Index

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pp. 283-290