Opera Indigene: Re/presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Opera Indigene: Re/presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures

1st Edition

Edited by Pamela Karantonis, Dylan Robinson


392 pages

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Paperback: 9781138250826
pub: 2016-10-03
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Hardback: 9780754669890
pub: 2011-03-28
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pub: 2016-05-13
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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

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

About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera
The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series provides a centralized and prominent forum for the presentation of cutting-edge scholarship that draws on numerous disciplinary approaches to a wide range of subjects associated with the creation, performance, and reception of opera (and related genres) in various historical and social contexts. There is great need for a broader approach to scholarship about opera. In recent years, the course of study has developed significantly, going beyond traditional musicological approaches to reflect new perspectives from literary criticism and comparative literature, cultural history, philosophy, art history, theatre history, gender studies, film studies, political science, philology, psycho-analysis, and medicine. The new brands of scholarship have allowed a more comprehensive interrogation of the complex nexus of means of artistic expression operative in opera, one that has meaningfully challenged prevalent historicist and formalist musical approaches. The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series continues to move this important trend forward by including essay collections and monographs that reflect the ever-increasing interest in opera in non-musical contexts. Books in the series are linked by their emphasis on the study of a single genre - opera - yet are distinguished by their individualized and novel approaches by scholars from various disciplines/fields of inquiry. The remit of the series welcomes studies of seventeenth century to contemporary opera from all geographical locations, including non-Western topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Opera