The liminal zone of opera: (unaccompanied) operatic monodrama and The Song Of Margery Kempe

Inglis, Brian ORCID logoORCID: (2016) The liminal zone of opera: (unaccompanied) operatic monodrama and The Song Of Margery Kempe. In: Music On Stage: Volume 2. Campos, Luis and Schopf, Fiona Jane, eds. Cambridge Scholars, pp. 171-190. ISBN 9781443896863. [Book Section]


A selective examination of the genres of unaccompanied music drama and works of theatre and music-theatre for solo performers, including their intersection in unaccompanied operatic monodrama. The historical frame ranges from the Middle Ages (The Play of Daniel and Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutem) to contemporary work, taking in Andrew Gant's a cappella opera May we borrow your husband? (1999) and focussing in on my own unaccompanied operatic monodrama The Song of Margery Kempe (2008). Theories of Victor Turner, Carolyn Abbate, Edward Cone and others are used to interrogate the location and nature of the drama in solo theatrical and musical works, and the boundaries and interstices of musical and theatrical genres. Discussions incorporate Schoenberg/Pappenheim's Erwartung and Poulenc/Cocteau's La voix humaine, with more substantial sub-sections on Judith Weir's King Harald's Saga and Peter Maxwell Davies' The Medium as well as The Song of Margery Kempe. (Spoken-word pieces by Samuel Beckett - Not I - and Alan Bennett - the Talking Heads series of television monodramas - are also discussed.) Such works are found to offer much in terms of rewarding challenges for writers and performers; economies/flexibility in production; and fruitful aesthetic ambiguity for audiences. In this they also effectively combat stereotypes of operatic work which have been endemic for hundreds of years, almost since the emergence of opera, and suggest the potential of this route for the future of the genre.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 17399
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Depositing User: Brian Inglis
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2015 08:59
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 11:59

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