Tag Archives: Opera

The patronage and playability of Mozart’s flute works

Stephen Martin Durham, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Exposition of the D Major flute quartet. Beethoven borrowed the first two bars. Mozart obviously used a thicker-cut quill for hand-writing than for the notes. ‘Figur Handschrift’ is in a later hand. (IMSLP, CCA-SA 4.0) It is therapeutic to have an intellectual interest outside clinical work, a […]

Richard Wagner, a man of many symptoms

Richard Wagner, Munich. 1871. by Franz Hanfstaengl. Via Wikimedia. Richard Wagner was an extraordinarily talented musical genius. Almost singlehandedly he revolutionized opera, completing its transformation from the traditional recitative–aria format to a continuous musical drama. He was born in 1813 in turbulent times in Leipzig. There four months after his birth the combined forces of […]

Maria Callas—her inner voice revealed

Eelco Wijdicks Lea Dacy Rochester, Minnesota, United States   Cover: Prima Donna: The Psychology of Maria Callas. In Prima Donna: The Psychology of Maria Callas, Paul Wink convincingly concludes—based on largely secondary sources—that Maria Callas was not only a wildly ambitious operator who was not known for an emollient manner, but a prime example of […]

The finality in their voices II: physiology-defying violent opera death

Lea C. Dacy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   The title character in Werther bleeding profusely from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but still able to sing an extended aria, used with permission from Alamy. In a previous article, we reviewed the plausibility of opera deaths in wasting diseases such as that of […]

The finality in their voices: death, disease, and palliation in opera

Lea C. Dacy Eelco F. M. Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   Figure 1: Violetta’s deathbed in La Traviata, from 2009 Glimmerglass Opera production directed by Sir Jonathan Miller. Photo by Richard Termine, used with his permission. I know she had tuberculosis! She was coughing her brains out . . . but still she kept […]

Ladies in red: medical and metaphorical reflections on La Traviata

Milad Matta Gregory Rutecki Lyndhurst, Ohio, United States   Illustration by Jason Malmberg. “. . . phthisic beauty[’s] . . . most famous operatic embodiment was Violetta Valery . . .This physical type became not only fashionable but sexy . . . When a society does not understand—and cannot control—a disease, ground seems to open […]

Bad blood: the drama of bloodshed

Emily Boyle Dublin, Ireland   Lucia’s mad scene – Rachelle Durkin as Lucia during The Chautauqua Opera’s dress rehearsal for Lucia di Lammermoor. Photo by Michelle Kanaar In some professions, bloodstained clothing is a normal part of the job. The two jobs that come to mind principally are a butcher and a vascular surgeon, although […]

Gioachino Rossini of The Barber of Seville (1792-1868)

In The Barber of Seville, Doctor Bartolo is a pompous, grumpy old man who wants to marry his young niece many years his junior and whom he basically keeps locked up. As he appears on stage, he makes sure that all the doors are firmly secured so that nobody can enter the house while he […]

Darwin at the Chinese opera

Sam Shuster United Kingdom I am grateful to Milky Man Shan Cheung, Administrative Coordinator at the Chinese Opera Information Centre, and Phil Olsen of Beard Team USA for their help in acquiring research materials and images for this paper. I would also like to thank the National Library of China for the use of its […]