chapter  10
13 Pages

Radical staging and the habitus of the singer

WithMary Ann Smart

A similar dynamic can be perceived across the terrain of performance studies in music more broadly. Inquiries into the mechanics of performing instrumental music have a freely exploratory, pleasure-centred mentality, often centrally incorporating the viewpoints and experiences of performers themselves. As the classic forms of Regietheater have begun to morph and fade, studies of directors and productions have yielded to research on how the operatic experience is shaped by technology and mediation. The chapter explores some preliminary ethnographic observation carried out during rehearsals of a San Francisco production of Verdi’s Don Carlo, in conjunction with written accounts by singers, teachers and stage directors and the evidence of opera productions themselves. Sociologist Paul Atkinson has suggested that singers bring with them to each new performance an established idiolect of gesture. Konwitschny builds productions that exploit the energy and charisma of individual singers’ bodies and movement styles.