“Lasciatemi morire” o farò “La Finta Pazza”: Embodying Vocal Nothingness on Stage in Italian and French 17th Century Operatic Laments and Mad Scenes
Abstract: This music research drama thesis explores and presents a singer’s artistic research process from the first meeting with a musical score until the first steps of the performance on stage. The aim has been to define and formulate an understanding in sound as well as in words around the concept of pure voice in relation to the performance of 17th century vocal music from a 21st century singer’s practice-based perspective with reference to theories on nothingness, the role of the 17th century female singer, ornamentation (over-vocalization) and the singing of the nightingale. !e music selected for this project is a series of lamentations and mad scenes from Italian and French 17th century music dramas and operas allowing for deeper investigation of differences and similarities in vocal expression between these two cultural styles. The thesis is presented in three parts: a Libretto, a performance of the libretto (DVD) and a Cannocchiale (that is, a text following the contents of the Libretto). In the libretto the Singer’s immediate inner images, based on close reading of the musical score have been formulated and performed in words, but also recorded and documented in sound and visual format, as presented in the performance on the DVD. In the Cannocchiale, the inner images of the Singer’s encounter with the score have been observed, explored, questioned, highlighted and viewed in and from different perspectives. The process of the Singer is embodied throughout the thesis by Mind, Voice and Body, merged in a dialogue with the Chorus of Other, a vast catalogue of practical and theoretical references including an imagined dialogue with two 17th century singers. As a result of this study, textual reflections parallel to vocal experimentation have led to a deeper understanding of the importance of considering the concept of nothingness in relation to Italian 17th century vocal music practice, as suggested in musicology. The concept of je-ne-sais-quoi in relation to the interpretation of French 17th century vocal music, approached from the same performance methodology and perspective as has been done with the Italian vocal music, may provide a novel approach for exploring the complexity involved in the creative process of a performing artist.
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