Genre and the Production of Gendered Identity on the Lyric Stage

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edited by Mark Everist and Jennifer Walker, Turnhout, Brepols, 2024, (Speculum Musicae, 55).

The lyric stage is a cultural site at which constructions of gender have been developed, mitigated and, at times, hindered by musical performance.

From the castrati of the seventeenth century to Mozart and Massenet’s cross-dressed Cherubinos, musical works created for lyric stages have often complicated traditional and normative readings of the gender and sexual identities of their characters, allowing composers, performers, and audiences to move beyond simple biological understandings of gender and sex.

The erotically charged sights and sounds of such productions called into question accepted generic conventions, thus revealing the very instability of normative identity and musical convention that European societies presumed integral to their social codes and generic constructs.

The fourteen case studies in this volume explore these topics through various geographical, historical, and musical perspectives: from Italian opera seria to Parisian music-hall ballet and Greek operetta during the interwar years, these essays shed new light on the complex and complementary ways in which gender and the production of gendered identities were invariably contingent upon — but nevertheless moved beyond — the expectations of genre on the lyric stage.

Mark Everist is Professor of Music at the University of Southampton. He is the author of eight monographs, has published over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals and collections of essays, and is the recipient of the Solie (2010) and Slim (2011) awards of the American Musicological Society. He was visiting professor at the Sorbonne in 2021-2022 and has been elected to a fellowship at the French Institute of Advanced Studies for 2024-2025.

Jennifer Walker is an Assistant Professor of Musicology at West Virginia University. Her first monograph was the 2022 winner of the American Musicological Society’s H. Robert Cohen/RIPM Award, and her book on Hector Berlioz’s Requiem is in press with Oxford University Press. Other articles and book chapters have appeared or are forthcoming in Berlioz and His World, The Cambridge History of Christian Sacred Music since 1500, Cambridge Opera Journal, and the Journal of Music Criticism.

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