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Opera: The Undoing of Women

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Country  France
Media type  Print
Copyright date  1988
Subject  Opera
3.9/5 Goodreads

Language  French
Author  Catherine Clément
Published  1979
Opera: The Undoing of Women t3gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcSUdHNFO1O8fjAF
Similar  Feminine Endings, The Queen's Throat: O, En Travesti: Women, Unsung voices, Queering the Pitch

Opera: The Undoing of Women (French: L’Opéra ou la Défaite des femmes) is a 1979 book by French philosopher Catherine Clément. In it, Clément explores the way in which traditional operatic plots often feature the death of female characters - in her words, "the infinitely repetitive spectacle of a woman who dies, murdered." Besides the literal deaths of characters such as Carmen, Cio-Cio-San, Isolde and Mélisande, Clément also discusses metaphorical deaths - for example, Turandot's power and the Marschallin's sexuality.

Clément makes many references to works outside the field of traditional musicological and opera scholarship, including Jules Michelet's La Sorcière and Claude Lévi-Strauss's Mythologiques.

The English translation, published 1988, is by Betsy Wing with a foreword by Susan McClary.

Reception

Some critics, including musicologist Carolyn Abbate, criticized Clément's failure to discuss the music of opera in her focus on the libretto. These critics argue that although female characters die, they also hold the "authorial voice" and thus, through singing, reverse the tradition of the passive, silent woman as object.

References

Opera: The Undoing of Women Wikipedia


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