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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The distinguishing resource of meaning in opera is operatic voice—not only opera’s most obvious feature but also the source of its generic identity. To a large extent this voice defines itself as a force of rupture, something nearly impossible for other vocal modalities to assimilate or appropriate. Opera as a genre depends on the difference between its own mode of vocalization and any other. For that reason, the self-reflexive staging of opera’s dependence on this singular voice is also a primary generic feature. Opera recurrently gazes at itself through the mirror of its voice. The potentials and perplexities of this self-marking, or “re-marking,” take exemplary form in scenes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic.

Keywords: opera, genre, operatic voice, meaning, John Adams, Mozart, Wagner, Don Giovanni, Tannhäuser, Doctor Atomic

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