Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater

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University of California Press, Feb 1, 2001 - Music - 365 pages
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W. Anthony Sheppard considers a wide-ranging constellation of important musical works in this fascinating exploration of ritualized performance in twentieth-century music. Revealing Masks uncovers the range of political, didactic, and aesthetic intents that inspired the creators of modernist music theater. Sheppard is especially interested in the use of the "exotic" in techniques of masking and stylization, identifying Japanese Noh, medieval Christian drama, and ancient Greek theater as the most prominent exotic models for the creation of "total theater."

Drawing on an extraordinarily diverse—and in some instances, little-known—range of music theater pieces, Sheppard cites the work of Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten, Arthur Honegger, Peter Maxwell Davies, Harry Partch, and Leonard Bernstein, as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Madonna. Artists in literature, theater, and dance—such as William Butler Yeats, Paul Claudel, Bertolt Brecht, Isadora Duncan, Ida Rubenstein, and Edward Gordon Craig--also play a significant role in this study.

Sheppard poses challenging questions that will interest readers beyond those in the field of music scholarship. For example, what is the effect on the audience and the performers of depersonalizing ritual elements? Does borrowing from foreign cultures inevitably amount to a kind of predatory appropriation? Revealing Masks shows that compositional concerns and cultural themes manifested in music theater are central to the history of twentieth-century Euro-American music, drama, and dance.
 

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Contents

Defining Music Theater
3
The Multiplicity of the Exotic
10
Ritual and Performance
15
BORROWED MA5KS GREEK JAPANESE AND MEDIEVAL
23
The Masks of Modernism
25
Freedom in a Tunic versus FriezeDried Classicism Hellenism in Modernist Performance
42
The Uses of Noh
72
Medievalism and the French Modernist Stage
96
Orientalists and a Crusader
169
Partchs Vision of Integrated Corporeal Theater and LatterDay Rituals
180
Bitter Rituals for a Lost Nation Partch and Bernstein
204
God in Popular Musical Theater
231
CONCLUSION REMOVING THE MASKS
241
Masking the Human and the Misogyny of Masks
243
Music Theater Now
252
Appendix
263

THE MYSTERIES OF BRITISH MUSIC THEATER OR DRESSING UP FOR CHURCH
113
The Audience as Congregation
115
Brittens Parables
126
Later British Mysteries
155
THE VARIETIES OF RITUAL EXPRESSION AND CRITICISM IN AMERICAN MUSIC THEATER
167

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About the author (2001)

W. Anthony Sheppard is Assistant Professor of Music at Williams College.

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