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.
'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