Chapter

Gender Ambiguities and Erotic Excess in the Operas of Cavalli

Susan Mcclary

in Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780520247345
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952065 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247345.003.0005
Gender Ambiguities and Erotic Excess in the Operas of Cavalli

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“Gender Ambiguities and Erotic Excess” approaches the often-bizarre gender configurations on the Venetian stage through the debates surrounding the boy-actor problem in the plays of Shakespeare. The operas of Francesco Cavalli feature not only castrati in leading male roles but also plots hinging on mistaken identities that offer the frisson of same-sex entanglements. Instead of trying to explain away these idiosyncrasies, the chapter explores the pleasures and hints of illicit desires that made Cavalli's operas so popular.

Keywords: boy actors in Shakespeare; Francesco Cavalli; Giasone; Calisto; gender; sexuality

Chapter.  7913 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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