topic I picked: Role of masculinity in opera, but if you have better idea that answers prompt:
Write an essay on any operatic convention, a single character, a scene/moment, a modern-day stage direction/performer, a stereotype, a quirk – anything that might be found, by anyone at all, potentially absurd, irrational or unreasonable (spectacle, monsters, kings singing, magic, the “concept” of a modern staging, a flamboyant singer, a strange historical situation, laughter, countertenors, a voice type, duets, da capo arias, “others,” monody, lieto fine, the underworld, characters/situations/plots that are potentially cringe-worthy from gender, class, race, ethnic, and other points of view.). Choose ONE thing. Anything operatic that may come across as “irrational,” or may be potentially alienating, weird, offensive, unlikely, or “unbelievable” will work well. Are there ways in which your chosen material of study might be rationalized, explained, historicized, or decoded using a convincing historical/philosophical/critical/political framework?
First, do some research, perhaps by choosing an opera we’ve studied, and watching a swathe of it on bCourses. (You may choose any opera if it was originally composed before 1820, though anything to do with its reception or later performance/recording is also good.) Second, identify research material. I want an informed response, that is, one that interacts with existing scholarship, authoritative opinion, and uses evidence. Try to select one or perhaps two short operatic episodes from your chosen opera to explore in detail. Or try to base your essay on something specific: perhaps only one character, one scene, an object, one or two comparative situations, or a single performance. The more focused you are for such a short response, the better.
DEVELOP A THEORETICAL FRAME
At the same time, choose a concept or theoretical framework perhaps building from your interactions with the Assignment readings. We’ve come across a few keywords in this class that I encourage you to use: sovereignty, Renaissance magic, enlightenment, or anything that you’ve written about or grasped onto over the past few weeks. I’d suggest that you go back to your responses to the readings to develop a lens through which you will process your research material. You can and should quote these authors and explain their positions in your papers at length, since that is a skill in itself.
I want you to get to know a larger opera/work better
I want you to be able to apply larger theoretical/critical concepts you discovered when tackling HARD Assignment readings to operatic materials
operas we have covered in class:
Monteverdi, L’Orfeo (Mantua 1607)
Artasere, Vinci (Rome 1730)
Mozart’s :e nozze di Figaro (Vienna 1786)