Paper Session
Nov 12, 2021 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211112T1700 20211112T1750 America/Chicago Intersectional Others in 20th- and 21st-Century Opera AMS 2021
Transnational Lenses: Reading Feminist Orientalism in _Scheherazade.2_
Individual Paper 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 23:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 23:50:00 UTC

In the folktale collection _One Thousand and One Nights_, the narrator Scheherazade escapes the Sultan's physical and sexual brutality through her storytelling; in the dramatic symphony _Scheherazade.2_, composed by John Adams (2014), the music and programmatic commentary evoke modern images of women facing violence and oppression. Through a musical story of empowerment and a construction of gender and ethnic identity, Adams utilizes program music's narrative and representational components to challenge contemporary power dynamics on a global scale. Typically, a work like this might be viewed through one of two methodological lenses: Following recent feminist music scholarship (Luong 2017), a feminist critique might examine the ways in which _Scheherazade.2_ confronts misogyny and offers reparation. An orientalist critique (following Said 1978) might examine the ways in which the piece's invocation of Scheherazade combines with musical and programmatic exoticism to project a cultural "Other" (Locke 2009). 

This paper blends the two lenses, using the framework of feminist orientalism (Zonana 1993) to synthesize the intertwined implications of both angles of critique in the context of transnational feminism. As a Western project alluding to the Arabian world of Scheherazade and the Sultan to tell a story about misogyny, _Scheherazade.2_ effectively construes such issues of misogyny as "Eastern." The effect of displacing these problems of violence and oppression onto the East arguably provides a more palatable way to critique the West itself, but ultimately impedes transnational efforts. While seeking broad-scale reparation and advocacy, _Scheherazade.2_ nevertheless reinscribes orientalist stereotypes through the constructed narrative of a gendered and ethnic "Other." A feminist orientalist critique of _Scheherazade.2_ parses the paradoxical nuances and the network of factors that shape interpretations of the piece and its reparative potential. By considering the complex layers of agency, identity, and interaction that create new meanings in different contexts, this critique highlights the ways in which _Scheherazade.2_ works to redress issues of misogyny while also perpetuating discourse of essentialization and appropriation. This paper argues overall that, by recognizing ways in which _Scheherazade.2_ participates in feminist orientalist discourse, the reparative potential of _Scheherazade.2_ can be foregrounded and genuinely realized in a transnational context.

Rebecca Schreiber
University Of Cincinnati College-Conservatory Of Music
'Qu'il est loin mon pays': Staging Provence in Massenet's _Sapho_
Individual Paper 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 23:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 23:50:00 UTC

The representation of the exoticised Other is a well-worn path in musicological discussions of nineteenth-century French opera. Most often, these debates concern far-off locales, both geographically and culturally distant from metropolitan Paris. But more recent scholarship, such as the work of Katharine Ellis, Steven Huebner and Hervé Lacombe, has started to explore how the exoticised Other could be found much closer to home. The French provinces provided composers with a rich source of inspiration, and featured with ever-increasing frequency on the operatic stage.

Massenet's 1897 opera _Sapho_, starring Emma Calvé in the title role, was not the first operatic work to use southern France as its setting, but its evocation of Provence was particularly rich in detail. The encounters between Parisian and Provençal characters in Massenet's opera make for some of its most compelling scenes, both musically and dramatically. These meetings of centre and periphery play with the concept of Self and Other, and even at times turn this dynamic entirely on its head.

Using Ellis's concept of "internal exotics" (used in relation to Gounod's 1864 opera _Mireille_, also set in Provence), this paper explores how _Sapho_ represents the south of France on the operatic stage, specifically examining how it depicts the region's 'foreignness'. It draws together diverse sources, such as the opera's score, its costume and set designs, as well as its meticulously detailed _mise en scène_. This paper also evaluates _Sapho_'s critical reception to assess how critics perceived this onstage representation, in order to understand the dual identity of the provinces as both Other – culturally, socially and even linguistically distant from the capital – and yet an inherent part of the French national narrative.

Emma Kavanagh
University Of Oxford
University of Oxford
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
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