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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Opera’s aesthetic foundation is to be sought in the singing voice that is unique and unlike any other. In the writings of Cavell and Abbate, for instance, we find discussions of the voice’s mode of signification and its ways of constructing meaning. Distinctions have been drawn between “realistic” and “operatic” singing, between “singing” and “speaking,” between “voice” and “body,” as well as between phenomenological and psychoanalytical approaches to the voice of opera. The idea of opera that endows voices with unique powers can be traced back to the myth of Orpheus. That myth articulates the phenomenon of the voice as hovering between worlds, as having the power to overturn death. The voice of opera is thereby specifically theorized with respect to the death and the afterlife of the voice. Two case studies are discussed in these terms: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Hindemith’s Hin und Zurück.

Keywords: voice, singing, body, Abbate, Cavell, Orpheus, death, Gianni Schicchi, Hin und Zurück

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