Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice

By Wendy Heller | Go to book overview

PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many of the ideas that form the basis of this book were first conceived for my doctoral dissertation, “Chastity, Heroism, and Allure: Women in the Opera of Seventeenth-Century Venice” (Brandeis University, 1995). The early nineties were an extraordinary time to be undertaking such a study. I was among a small group of scholars reconsidering opera in the context of gender studies. There was a flurry of publications on gender in the early modern period, and scholars in a variety of disciplines were reconsidering the complex relationships between artworks and the societies that produced them, providing new models for intellectual inquiry. I was profoundly influenced and encouraged by the pioneering work done on Monteverdi and gender by Susan McClary, and my work has benefited in numerous ways from the influence and support of a number of scholars working on gender in opera or early modern music: Tim Carter, Suzanne Cusick, Beth Glixon, Lydia Hammesley, and Mary Ann Smart, to name but a few. I was also fortunate to have begun this study during what was certainly a “renaissance” in the study of seventeenth-century music. The first annual meeting of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music was held in St. Louis in spring of 1992, providing many younger scholars with a wonderfully supportive and generous community. Perhaps most important, I had the privilege of writing after the publication of two extraordinarily influential books. Ellen Rosand's monumental Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice became a bible for all of us working on Venetian opera studies, and Eric Chafe's Monteverdi's Tonal Language gave us many new tools with which to analyze seventeenth-century music.

The transformation of the dissertation into this book has been a far more complex and rewarding process than I would ever have imagined, and the result is a work that only superficially resembles the original. The change in title is not insignificant, as the book addresses issues that were only implicit

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Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustr Ations ix
  • Tables xi
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
  • Editorial Principles xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Emblematic Woman 27
  • Chapter 2 - Opera and the Accademia Degli Incogniti 48
  • Chapter 3 - Didone and the Voice of Chastity 82
  • Chapter 4 - Woman and Empire 136
  • Chapter 5 - The Nymph Calisto and the Myth of Female Pleasure 178
  • Chapter 6 - Semiramide and Musical Transvestism 220
  • Chapter 7 - Envoicing the Courtesan 263
  • Conclusions 295
  • Notes 301
  • Bibliography 353
  • Index 371
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