Author Topic: Transgender representation in Opera  (Read 565 times)

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Offline jessop

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Transgender representation in Opera
« on: June 26, 2017, 05:39:37 PM »
Curious to know what there is out there. One of my friends, who has been having one of his own operas performed recently, has made me aware of this intriguing chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky (libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed)

'As One' by Laura Kaminsky

Watching it here where it is available to view in its entirety until the 30th of June for pride month:
http://www.aopopera.org/AsOne/worldpremiere/index.html


Of course, there are also rather more transmisogynistic portrayals such as Robert Paterson and David Cote's opera Three Way.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Transgender representation in Opera
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2017, 10:56:05 PM »
Opera has had genderbending elements since its very beginning when castratos sang Eurydice and other female roles.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline amw

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Re: Transgender representation in Opera
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2017, 11:46:07 PM »
I haven't listened to the opera you linked, but part of me is questioning whether an opera that portrays a MTF transgender character via a baritone "before" and a mezzo-soprano "after" would actually be a good portrayal. Most of the MTF people I know still have male voices, but also it's apparently almost impossible to train the speaking voice—let alone the singing voice—to lie that much higher than its natural pitch, so maybe that would be seen as offensive and minimising the struggles of transgender people. I'm not sure.

Still intrigued and I may listen, and just ask friends later whether it's politically kosher. :p

Although opera has had men playing female roles and vice versa for ages, I don't think one can speak of "transgender" representation in opera until we have characters actually changing sex or gender on stage as in e.g. Les mamelles de Tirésias.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Transgender representation in Opera
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2017, 12:03:23 AM »
Curious to know what there is out there.

Hans Jürgen Syberberg's film production of Parsifal.

Curlew River (Britten) - possibly.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2017, 12:12:08 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline jessop

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Re: Transgender representation in Opera
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2017, 12:42:53 AM »
I haven't listened to the opera you linked, but part of me is questioning whether an opera that portrays a MTF transgender character via a baritone "before" and a mezzo-soprano "after" would actually be a good portrayal. Most of the MTF people I know still have male voices, but also it's apparently almost impossible to train the speaking voice—let alone the singing voice—to lie that much higher than its natural pitch, so maybe that would be seen as offensive and minimising the struggles of transgender people. I'm not sure.

Still intrigued and I may listen, and just ask friends later whether it's politically kosher. :p

Although opera has had men playing female roles and vice versa for ages, I don't think one can speak of "transgender" representation in opera until we have characters actually changing sex or gender on stage as in e.g. Les mamelles de Tirésias.

I was wondering about the voice. I have heard both a changed voice and a retained voice depending on the person and their approach to what makes them feel most comfortable with themself.

I was also wondering whether the voice types could also be thought of in a less literal way as well, where a change in voice type simply represents a change in outward appearance or the character's change of body to something she is comfortable that others recognise as female. Voice types are probably way more important in opera than the way our voices sound in real life..................

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Transgender representation in Opera
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2017, 12:49:20 AM »
According to the blurb of "As One", there is separate casting for the "before" character and the "after" one.
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Offline jessop

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Re: Transgender representation in Opera
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2017, 03:14:14 AM »
According to the blurb of "As One", there is separate casting for the "before" character and the "after" one.
Yes, and watching the opera confirms that.

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