The Prima Donna’s Art of Politics

James R. Currie

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:
The Prima Donna’s Art of Politics

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This chapter seeks to address the present political tendencies within scholarship on the prima donna in order to investigate the strategic volatility of notions such as sublimity, excess, realism, transcendence, transgression, and narcissism—terms that have had a particularly weighted presence in the ongoing prima donna discourse, and which also remain sites of important political contestation within the ongoing problematic of capitalist modernity. The chapter points out that in the 1990s, scholars were concerned to focus on excess, while recently they have turned to a more sober kind of materialist disenchantment. Framing its argument within certain themes of contemporary political culture, this chapter questions this latter position, without denying the potential threats that themes of excess can hold for those (like female opera singers) they are used to represent.

Keywords: excess; sublime; transcendence; woman as nature; politics; irony; disenchantment; parody; narcissism

Chapter.  7575 words. 

Subjects: Opera

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