Screening the Diva

Mary Simonson

in The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780195365870
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932054 | DOI:
Screening the Diva

Show Summary Details


This chapter explores the most modern medial intervention available to the prima donnas in this book: early film. It seems astonishing to learn that early twentieth-century opera singers such as Mary Garden and Geraldine Farrar involved themselves in the silent film industry of the 1910s. What was an opera singer doing devoting time and energy to a performance format that by definition ignored her principal attribute? Simonson critiques Garden’s and Farrar’s portrayals on the silver screen of a variety of roles from Joan of Arc to Carmen, and observes a foregrounding of their bodies and exulting in physicality. Not just their screen exploits, but risks they endured while filming were written up eagerly by the press, suggesting that the prima donna became an important iconic figure in the emergence of, and discourse around, new female identities at the beginning of the new century.

Keywords: film; silent film; Mary Garden; Geraldine Farrar; Joan of Arc; Carmen; physicality; exploits

Chapter.  8854 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Opera

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.