Interlude The Prima Donna Creates

Julian Rushton

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:
Interlude The Prima Donna Creates

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This brief, reflective interlude addresses the singer’s relationship to the notion of “creation,” understood here both as an artistic attribute associated by convention more with the composer than the performer, and—drawing on dictionary definitions of “prima donna”—as a capricious mode of behavior or stereotype. More specifically, the chapter highlights the manner in which individual prima donnas have established and/or produced authoritative interpretations of key operatic roles, and the ways in which their personalities have been bound up with and continue to influence the performance of these roles by later generations. The chapter closes by citing a model of female agency—the disguised heroine Leonore, as depicted through Beethoven’s dynamic setting of “Komm, Hoffnung, lass den letzten Stern” in his opera Fidelio.

Keywords: creation; convention; composer; performer; capricious; stereotype; authoritative interpretations; roles; agency

Chapter.  3183 words. 

Subjects: Opera

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