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368 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Warhol) for a narratology that's more self-aware and more attentive to the concrete. Other readers, with different interests, will profit from other essays. In the end, then, this is a collection well worth selective attention. (PETER J. RABINOWITZ) Richard Dellamora and Daniel Fischlin, editors. The Work of Opera: Genre, Nationhood, and Sexual Difference Columbia University Press. xii, 350. us$57.00 cloth, us$22.00 paper The Work of Opera unites some of the most provocative and thoughtful scholars writing about opera today. In this volume, Susan McClary, who revolutionized musical studies by introducing gender to discussions of standard repertory, contributes a subtle essay on audience identification with, or resistance to, Bizet's Carmen. In an essay on 'Metropolitan Opera/ Suburban Identity,' Kevin Kopelson pushes the limits of confessional musicology by reviewing reviews of Wayne Koestenbaum's groundbreaking book The Queen's Throat. Lawrence Kramer provides a psychoanalytic reading of fire and Siegfried's sexuality in 'The.Waters of Prometheus : Nationalism and Sexuality in Wagner's Ring.' Ruth Solie compiles a remarkable number of tum-of-the-century novels with opera box scenes that iconically express the fraught intersection of capital and culture in modernist America. This is to name but a few of the invaluable contributions to The Work of Opera. Although this collection focuses on representations of gender (Death in Venice, The Marriage of Figaro) and problems of nationhood (Norma, Ai'da, Louis Riel, Samson and Dalila), it has the collateral benefit of righting the achievement of Benjamin Britten. Jim Ellis, in an examination of Britten's War Requiem, provides a savvy interpretation of Britten's homosexuality that surpassesJeremyTambling's and Humphrey Carpenter's scholarly and biographical understandings of the subject. 'What if,' Ellis asks, 'the repression hypothesis [of Britten's homosexuality and his interest in innocent youths] were to be rejected and the operas were read as productive of something? What i( indeed, they were read as Britten read them, as protests against the destruction of innocence?' The relation of Britten (the pacifist) to Britain (the nation) has long required revaluation. Essays by Ellis and Daniel Fischlin go a long way towards refining the terms of that revaluation. Skilfully edited, the essays in The Work of Opera address each other. Various essayists refer to voice production -electronic,operatic, dexterous, anxious, appropriative- in the tradition of the castrate, or in the disrupted and disruptive history of homosexuality, or in pop music and AIDS activism . In a superb analysis of 'The Italian (Castrato) in London/ Todd Gilman brings together a wealth of eighteenth-century poetic utterances, HUMANITIES 369 themselves 'voicings' of anxiety about the castrate, to suggest that the freakish body and celestial singing of the castrate upset British notions of nationality and gender. This analysis is supplemented by Felicia Miller's essay on 'Farinelli's Electronic Hermaphrodite and the Contralto Tradition,' as well as Rebecca Pope and Susan Leonardi's discussion of cross-over diva Diamanda Galas. Pope and Leonardi argue that Galas sacrifices her voice, or puts it 'at risk,' in order to politicize performance and to discomfit her audience. Voices represent meanings in excess of words. Statements about vocal ambiguity permit speculation on why opera outstrips other performative genres in terms of contradictory signification. Opera draws attention to problems of nationality, exile, eros, gender, and activism by focusing on the voice as the instrument and implementation of such problems. The voice houses identity. Two declarations, cited in different essays, fruitfully probe the politics of identity: On one hand, British AIDS activist and maverickfilmmaker DerekJarman claims 'I am the Establishment.' The statement is patently untrue. Jarman's films resist the status quo and. have even been denounced in the House of Commons. He means that he speaks for the liberal tradition in Britain. He also means that queerness lies at the heart of the British polity; it cannot be argued away or disenfranchised by fiat. By contrast, Diamanda Galas, an American, makes an appeal for identity based on disenfranchisement: 'People always ask me why I am singing to a special interest group ... I tell them I am the special interest group, we all are.' Declarations of identity, whether spoken from...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 368-369
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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