The Rival Sirens: Performance and Identity on Handel's by Dr Suzanne Aspden

By Dr Suzanne Aspden

The story of the onstage struggle among prima donnas Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni is infamous, showing in tune histories to at the present time, however it is a fiction. ranging from this false impression, The Rival Sirens means that the contention fostered among the singers in 1720s London was once largely a social building, one conditioned via neighborhood theatrical context and viewers expectancies, and heightened through manipulations of plot and track. This ebook deals readings of operas through Handel and Bononcini as functionality occasions, inflected by way of the audience's perceptions of singer character and modern theatrical and cultural contexts. via studying the case of those girls, Suzanne Aspden demonstrates that the personae of megastar performers, in addition to their voices, have been of the most important value in picking the form of an opera through the early a part of the eighteenth century.

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Scipione Maffei, Dei teatri antichi e moderni (1753); cited in Heller, ‘Reforming Achilles’, 571–2. Cited and discussed in Ferris, Acting Women, 58. 58 In the epiphany of Henry James’s character, with which the chapter began, it is the realisation that the actress as a woman is always acting, is nothing more than a concatenation of performative facets, that elicits his distaste: she is either a poor actress (of questionable ‘histrionic nature’) or, in being competent in that sphere, a worse woman.

John Hill, The Actor, 141; cited in Straub, Sexual Suspects, 13. 30 While the individual actor generated much audience attention, it was in part because a mutual influence was assumed between offstage behaviour (character) and the roles (characters) performed on stage. 33 But this perceived transparency (or enacted permeability) had negative as well as positive implications for actor as well as for society. 34 Outside it, an individual’s character would be judged – even 30 31 32 33 34 Roach, The Player’s Passion, 47–52.

On the late eighteenth century’s simultaneous glorification of the abstract muse or deity and denigration of real women, see Gutwirth, Twilight of the Goddesses, 252–84. Scipione Maffei, Dei teatri antichi e moderni (1753); cited in Heller, ‘Reforming Achilles’, 571–2. Cited and discussed in Ferris, Acting Women, 58. 58 In the epiphany of Henry James’s character, with which the chapter began, it is the realisation that the actress as a woman is always acting, is nothing more than a concatenation of performative facets, that elicits his distaste: she is either a poor actress (of questionable ‘histrionic nature’) or, in being competent in that sphere, a worse woman.

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