Introduction: on not singing and singing physiognomically; 1. Verdi, Victor Maurel, and the operatic interpreter; 2. Real mezzo: Célestine Galli-Marié as Carmen; 3. Photographic diva: Massenet, Sibyl Sanderson, and the soprano as spectacle; 4. Jean de Reszke, the 'problem' of the tenor, and early international Wagner performance; Supporting cast.
Karen Henson explores a wealth of new historical material about singers and opera performance in the late nineteenth century.
Karen Henson is Associate Professor at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century opera, singers and opera performance, and opera and technology. She trained at the University of Oxford and in Paris, and her work has been supported by fellowships and awards from The British Academy, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. She has been a regular guest speaker for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and the BBC.
'Karen Henson lovingly summons the voices of four singers of the
fin de siècle, chronicling the moment when the opera star was no
longer defined by beautiful singing alone. Spiraling out from Paris
to aesthetics and performance practice in both Verdi and Wagner,
Henson uncovers the roots of our current obsession with dramatic
intensity, cinematic realism, and photogenic celebrity on the
operatic stage.' Mary Ann Smart, University of California,
'Karen Henson upsets conventional wisdom to argue for the continuing influence of singers on operatic creation in the late nineteenth century. Weaving together journalism, photography, theater, and fashion, she shows that the physicality of performers as much as their voices shaped works by Verdi, Bizet, Massenet, and Wagner. This is a virtuosic account of opera's rich cultural fabric - beautifully written, always engaging.' Steven Huebner, McGill University, Montréal