Andrew Dell’Antonio on Performing Disabled Bodies, Disabled Bodies Performing

This week at The Avid Listener, Andrew extends his on-going discussion of authenticity with an essay about disabled bodies and / in opera. Avid readers may recall Andrew’s essay from a few weeks ago about gendered bodies in opera, and his new essay continues to play with our cultural expectations of what the bodies who sing on stage “should” look like.

Here’s a teaser: “Operatic bodies, like the sounds they dramatize, are generally meant to be beautiful. But like other cultural forms, opera is also used to explore society’s concern with the abnormal, its fear of and fascination with bodies that deviate from a culturally framed “ordinary.” Music-and-disability scholar Blake Howe—whose summary of the relevance of disability readings to music is still the most articulate and useful online resource on the topic—curates an extraordinary database of musical depictions of disability, and operatic roles comprise a large and varied component of that database. As with gender, various kinds of bodily configurations have been understood differently in different historical and geographical circumstances, and musicians have helped to shape those understandings while also working within them…”

Read the entire essay here. As always, we invite you to ask a question or leave a comment, and stay for the discussion.

Next week we’ll have our final essay before going on hiatus. Stay tuned for TAL 2.0!

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