PhD University of NSW 2016 Pages: 457

Dramaturgical analysis of opera performance: four recent productions of Dido and Aeneas

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The scholarly analysis of the modern performance of opera is a rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field, yet so far this body of literature has consisted almost entirely of short-form articles and chapters. This thesis posits and demonstrates a new large-scale methodology for the analysis of the modern performance of opera, drawing from theatre studies, performance studies, musicology, cultural history, and other fields, but primarily from dramaturgy. It focuses on analysing the construction of meaning and signification through modern musical and theatrical performance of opera, elucidating this through analysis of four recent productions of Henry Purcell and Nahum Tate’s c.1683–88 opera Dido and Aeneas; those of Sasha Waltz and Guests (2005), Les Arts Florissants (2008), The Royal Opera /​ The Royal Ballet (2009) and Opera Australia (2009). This thesis analyses and discusses the opera and the four productions through DVD recordings and live performance, while also integrating a range of primary and secondary sources. Comparing productions enables insights to be made into the interpretative possibilities offered by the operatic text. ..

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