What are these women doing in opera?

We sang Otello tonight, this time finally dressed up neatly and without study stuff on the lap. I had read about the opera’s story a couple of months ago, but the summery had been far to complex to not mix everything up with the plot of some other opera I read right afterwards. A bad thing to do with these thousand names!
So I tried to go with the English text that is printed in the vocal score. It wasn’t so easy to get everything and somehow I missed the point when Desdemona is killed. Desdemona was sung by a great soprano, so I thought, oh maybe this one is lucky and the lady doesn’t get killed. But then I remembered something I read a couple of weeks ago:

“If you’re a woman in opera, Catherine Clément notes, […] you will drag your tuberculosis-wracked body around the stage till you collapse like a rag doll, or you’ll go mad, or get crushed to death by the king’s guards, or be strangled, or — if you can manage — leap from the top of a Roman prison or stride into the immolating blaze.”

Jap – and so there was no Desdemona left in the end.. unified with ladies dressed in a Parisian ball gown or Japanese kimono, princesses, prostitudes, and pure-minded peasants who lose their lives on stage in past, present, and future.

(Citation: Locke R: What Are These Women Doing In Opera? In: Blackmer C and Smith P (1995): En Travesti – Women, Gender Subversion, Opera. New York.)

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Filed under Chantez, chantez!, Hot Mezzos in Pants, Life in Gießen

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