The representation of non-Western cultures in opera has long been a focus of critical inquiry. Within this field, the diverse relationships between opera and First Nations and Indigenous cultures, however, have received far less attention. Opera Indigene takes this subject as its focus, addressing the changing historical depictions of Indigenous cultures in opera and the more contemporary practices of Indigenous and First Nations artists. The use of 're/presenting' in the title signals an important distinction between how representations of Indigenous identity have been constructed in operatic history and how Indigenous artists have more recently utilized opera as an interface to present and develop their cultural practices.
This volume explores how operas on Indigenous subjects reflect the evolving relationships between Indigenous peoples, the colonizing forces of imperial power, and forms of internal colonization in developing nation-states. Drawing upon postcolonial theory, ethnomusicology, cultural geography and critical discourses on nationalism and multiculturalism, the collection brings together experts on opera and music in Canada, the Americas and Australia in a stimulating comparative study of operatic re/presentation.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction, Pamela Karantonis and Dylan Robinson; Part I Critical and Comparative Contexts: Opera's Colonizing Force and Decolonizing Potential: Orpheus conquistador, Nicholas Till; Decentering opera: early 21st-century indigenous production, Beverley Diamond; 'Singing from the margins': postcolonial themes in Voss and Waiting for the Barbarians, Michael Halliwell; Performativity mimesis, and indigenous opera, Pamela Karantonis. Part II Australian Perspectives: 'To didj or not to didj': exploring indigenous representation in Australian music theater works by Margaret Sutherland and Andrew Schultz, Anne Boyd; Giving voice to the un-voiced 'witch' and the 'heart of nothingness': Moya Henderson's Lindy, Linda Kouvaras; The Eighth Wonder: explorations of place and voice, Anne Power. Part III Indianism in the Americas: Indianismo in Brazilian romantic opera: shifting ideologies of national foundation, Maria Alice Volpe; Native songs, Indianist styles and the process of music idealization, Tara Browner; Composed and produced in the American West, 1912-1913: two operatic portrayals of First Nations cultures, Catherine Parsons Smith. Part IV Canadian Perspectives: Assimilation, integration, and individuation: the evolution of First Nations musical citizenship in Canadian opera, Mary I. Ingraham; 'Too much white man in it': aesthetic colonization in Tzinquaw, Alison Greene; Peaceful surface and monstrous depths: Barbara Pentland and Dorothy Livesay's The Lake, Dylan Robinson; The politics of genre: exposing historical tensions in Harry Somers's Louis Riel, Coleen L. Renihan. Part V New Creation and Collaborative Processes: Creating Pimooteewin, Robin Elliott; After McPhee: Evan Ziporyn's A House in Bali, Victoria Vaughan; West coast First Peoples and The Magic Flute: Tracing the journey of a cross-cultural collaboration, Robert McQueen interviewed by Dylan Robinson, with responses by Cathi Charles Wherry and Tracey Herbert, Lorna Williams, and Marion Newman; P
Pamela Karantonis is Senior Lecturer in Voice at Bath Spa University, UK. She is a Convenor of the Music Theatre Working Group of The International Federation for Theatre Research. She is joint editor and contributing author for Cathy Berberian: Pioneer of Contemporary Vocality (Ashgate, 2014) and The Legacy of Opera (2013).
Dylan Robinson has held research positions as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music and as a Visiting Scholar in Canadian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently working on a book that investigates the degree to which musical reconciliation in Canada reflects a process of restorative justice. His research theorizes how Indigenous epistemology and worldviews might impact upon the re-telling of music history in North America.
'As a whole, this collection makes a significant contribution in several areas... the most interesting of these is to be found in the way that many of the essays provide examples of serious engagement with postcolonial modes of critique, a relatively undeveloped approach in music studies. Most of the chapters are written in an accessible style that eschews jargon, making them especially appropriate for classroom use at all levels.' Journal of Folklore Research '... ground-breaking... This is a timely book posing questions and comparing results from different times and cultures. As such, it is an important addition to the growing literature considering representation of culture in artistic expression.' Australian Music Forum 'In sum, it is an original, worthy addition to the scholarly literature on opera and musical theatre, Indigenous musics, and cultural and performance studies. With its lively and approachable discussion of a wide range of operas it is sure to appeal to general readers as well ... a wonderfully bold opening salvo for the new Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series ... This book represents an important achievement and is highly recommended for anyone interested in Indigenous performing arts and in contemporary opera'. Music and Letters