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Opera seria and Musical Representation of Gender
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Musicology and Performance Studies. Musikvetenskap.
2006 (English)In: Twelfth Biennial Conference on Baroque Music, Warszawa 26 30 juli 2006, 2006Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In what ways can musical representation be said to correspond to general ideas about gender during the first half of the 18th century? An investigation of musical representation of characters in the Italian genre opera seria has resulted in the hypothesis that music was an important means to reflect contemporary ideas of power and gender. An opera seria consists of a number of musical styles connected to specific affects, situations and characters in the drama. In Georg Friedrich Händel’s Giulio Cesare (1724) the musical construction of the two main characters Giulio Cesare and Cleopatra appears to be an indication of contemporary ideas concerning gender. Whereas the hero is tied to a traditional ideal the heroine does not follow a specific pattern regarding musical styles. The freedom concerning constellation of affects as well as musical styles may be due to her position as main character and as a woman. She is not as the primary male character and the secondary characters connected to a conventional pattern in the frame of a ceremonial rhetoric.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
opera, opera seria, gender
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-12038OAI: diva2:178558
Available from: 2008-01-15 Created: 2008-01-15Bibliographically approved

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Ethnersson, Johanna
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