Fall 2017

Angels and Demons on the Opera Stage

Moodle site: Course


Klara Moricz (Section 01)


In Madwoman in the Attic Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar argued that women are regularly depicted in literature either as pure angels or dangerous madwomen. Angels or demons, victims or perpetrators, women are routinely destroyed on the opera stage. The angelic Gilda sacrifices herself to save her seducer, Madame Butterfly stabs herself in desperation, Salome is slaughtered after she kisses the severed head of John the Baptist, Carmen is brutally murdered by her vengeful lover, and Lulu is finished off by Jack the Ripper, leaving her final scream to reverberate in our ears after the opera is over. In opera only a few women are allowed to survive with dignity the onslaught of male desire. With its misogynistic plots, opera is the perfect place to start reading music from a feminist perspective.  Along with seminal texts by feminist music critics such as Catherine Clément, Susan McClary, and Carolyn Abbate, we will read the music of women in famous operas (among them Lucia di Lammermoor, Bluebeard’s Castle, Carmen, Salome, Madame Butterfly), finishing the course with an opera by a contemporary woman composer, Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin.   Fall semester. Professor Moricz.

If Overenrolled: Dean handles this.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality


2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017