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'Understanding Early English Opera Character-type for the Female Singer’: A Study in the History of Emotional Expression in Operatic Performance (1660-1750)
The purpose of this research is to reconnect the performance of the contemporary mezzo-soprano opera singer to her preceding seventeenth-century prime donne analogues through selected operatic aria examples. Through detailed historical research and historically-informed performance practices, the research intends to provide evidence and materials to restore seventeenth-century mezzo-soprano operatic repertoire to the modern twenty-first century mezzo-soprano voice. In such an investigation, the study will consider the initial and subsequent intervening centuries in order to shed light on the vocal, emotional and performative treatments of the repertoire, including the recognition and justification of its greatest current stylistic exponents. A way to achieve these historical goals is to trace and analyse initial and subsequent interpreters and their respective interpretations of the original seventeenth-century target material. In accordance, the research will also make clear the past and present individuals responsible for perpetuating the classifying mechanism of vocal appropriateness of the differing seventeenth-century and nineteenth-century operatic schools, traditions and customs which vitally influence the role of seventeenth-century aria repertoire in today’s active canon.
No such study or guide currently exists for the contemporary mezzo-soprano wishing to sing seventeenth-century repertoire. This is a major problem when attempting to study and perform this repertoire as today's understanding of the voice, vocal classifications, style, presentation and performance vary significantly from what was the norm in the seventeenth-century. Thus, this research offers the clarity and insight needed to revive and sing opera's first repertoire.