ABSTRACT

In Laurie Anderson’s Homeland, for which she acted as multiple author—she wrote the lyrics, composed the music, produced the album, played several instruments on it, and sang/talked either as herself, or as her male alter ego Fenway Bergamot—the relationship between the singing body, the voice, and gender carries different implications from those analyzed in La Commedia.1 The voice of Zavalloni in La Commedia is at the same time assigned to the man and to the woman character. That voice fluctuates between genders, and the vocal binary opposition between the genders is questioned. The gender–voice relationship is perceived as a performance. With the help of the harmonizer, Anderson invents what is conventionally considered a masculine vocal; she puts on “vocal drag” and at the same time assumes a masculine identity to “fit” the voice. She relies on the fact that the gender–voice relationship is performative, too. With her male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot, she insists on a binary opposition between the voice and the gender, but only to treat it ironically and to problematize what interests her in a number of her projects: the avoidance of stereotypical roles of a woman on stage. And that stage, in Anderson’s case, is one that crosses different disciplines and genres, as she enacts the figure of the rock musician and singer, the classical music violinist, the performance artist, and the multimedia artist. Anderson’s musical language in Homeland is eclectic, too, borrowing from minimal electronic, techno, world music, and jazz. The ensemble Anderson has chosen to accompany her in performing Homeland consists of musicians engaged in New York’s experimental jazz and rock scenes.2