Saints in the Limelight: Representations of the Religious Quest on the Post-1945 Operatic Stage
In the small list of scholarly works on music after World War II, there are few studies of the operatic repertory and none at all on the surprisingly large number of operas on religious themes. In this interdisciplinary study of thirty-eight music dramatic works on saintly subjects, Siglind Bruhn, distinguished author of such seminal studies as The Temptation of Paul Hindemith and Musical Ekphrasis, asks why this phenomenon occurred in the last half of the previous century and investigates how contemporary composers express spiritual mysteries. The works examined include celebrated masterpieces, lesser works by renowned composers, and gems by composers who were highly esteemed in their own country and time. Although all the works she discusses have been publicly performed and almost half of them commercially recorded, many have never been discussed in print outside their country of origin and none of them has been examined to ask how the musical language and the dramatic elements convey the religous quest in all its complexity. The range of works under scrutiny range from Messiaien's St. Fran ois d'Assise to Philipp Glass's Satyagraha; from Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites to Menotti's Saint of Bleecker Street; from Tavener's Mary of Egypt to Tomasi's Miguel de Manana.
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accompanied angels Assisi audience bass biblical Birgitta Bishop Bonhoeffer Carmelites century character choir choral chords chorus Christ Christian Church Columba composer contrast death dialogue Dietrich Bonhoeffer divine dramatic Erik EXAMPLE expressed faith final flute Francis Francis's friars Gandhi genre God's Greek Passion Hadewijch heard heavenly Henri Tomasi holy human hymn instrumental Jesus Joan Joan's John John of Patmos John Tavener King leitmotif libretto liturgical lives Luther Magnus Manolios Maria martyr martyrdom Mary of Egypt melismas melodic Messiaen Miguel mode monks motif murder musical mystic Olivier Messiaen opera Ordo virtutum Paavo Paavo Ruotsalainen palindromic passages Passion Patmos person phrase pitch play portrayal prayer present Priest protagonist realm recurs religious rhythmic role Saint Satan Satyagraha scene segment semitones seven singing song sopranos soul sounds spiritual story strings sung symbolic tableau texture theme Therese Thomas Becket timbral Tomasi tonal vision vocal voice words