Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-nineteenth-century Italian Opera
The early 19th century was a period of acute transition in operatic tradition and style, when time-honoured practices gave way to the developing aesthetics of Romanticism, the rise of the tenor overtook the falling stars of the castrati, and the heroic, the masculine, and the feminine were profoundly reconfigured. These transformations resounded in operatic plot structures as well; the happy resolution of the 18th century twisted into a tragic 19th-century finale with the death of the helpless and innocent heroine--and frequently her tenor hero along with her. Female voices which formerly had sung en travesti, or basically in male drag, opposite their female character counterparts then took on roles of the second woman, a companion and foil to the death-bound heroine rather than her romantic partner. In Voicing Gender, Naomi Andre skilfully traces the development of female characters in these first decades of the century,
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Adalgisa Adriano aesthetics Anna Bolena aria Armando Arturo audience aural Balzac's bel canto Bellini Bianca cabaletta cantabile career castrati castrato voice Cherubino chest voice composers Creusa crociato in Egitto cross-dressed disguise Donizetti's donna drama duet Edegardo eighteenth century Enrico Farinelli Felicia female characters female singers gender Giasone Giovanna Giuditta Pasta Giulia Grisi hear heroic travesti roles hybrid Italian opera Italy Knights of Rhodes leading Leonora male and female male characters Malibran Maometto II Marianina Medea in Corinto Meyerbeer Meyerbeer's Naples nineteenth century Norma notes offstage onstage opera stage pageboy Palmide Paris performed period ear plot Pollione premiered primo ottocento repertory Romantic heroine Rosmonda d'Inghilterra Rossini San Carlo sang Sarrasine scene second woman Semiramide singing Smeton soprano sound stanza style sung Tancredi Teatro Teatro San Carlo tenor theater tion title role Tosi travesti tradition treble timbres Velluti Venice women women's voices written Zambinella