The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body

The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body

The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body

The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body

Synopsis

Alternatives to grand opera and the popular musical can be traced at least as far back as the 1912 premiere of Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire." Yet this ongoing history has never been properly sorted out, its complex ideas and philosophy as well as musical and theatrical achievements never brought fully to light. The New Music Theater is the first comprehensive attempt in English to cover this still-emerging art form in its widest range. This book provides a wealth of examples and descriptions not only of the works themselves, but of the concepts, ideas, and trends that have gone into the evolution of what may be the most central performance art form of the post-modern world. Authors Salzman and Desi consider the subject of music theatre from a social as well as artistic point of view, exploring how theatre works in culture, and how music works in the theatre. Illuminating their discussion with illustrations from current artists and their works, The New Music Theater both describes where we have been and points the way to the future of this all-encompassing art form.

Excerpt

WHAT IS MUSIC THEATER? Since this usage, although known in various European languages, is relatively new in English, the question has been posed in various ways.

Opera is an abbreviated form of a still-current Italian expression, opera lirica, which can be translated as “lyric work” or “works that are sung” (opera itself being the plural of opus, the Latin word for “work”). The term has been used to represent many “classical” forms of sung theater, even when the connections to European opera are slight (hence “Chinese opera” or “Peking opera”). By extension, popular theatrical forms containing music (some of them older than opera itself) have come to be designated as operetta (or “little opera”), light opera, comic opera, opéra comique, or opéra bouffe, all variable and somewhat awkward expressions that try to marry terms for relatively small-scale popular or comic (i.e., nontragic) art with a word whose historically developed character is closely connected with notions of “big” and “grand.”

In fact, the term opera itself has sometimes inspired doubts among composers and librettists. Reformers and innovators of serious opera as well as the creators of popular forms have often preferred to use other . . .

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