GANYMEDE 5 – THE OPERA AND AN ANALYSIS OF KATE SOPER’S OPERA HERE BE SIRENS
AuthorKassof, Evan James
AdvisorFolio, Cynthia J.
Committee memberKlein, Michael L.
Everett, Yayoi U.
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/6484
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AbstractIn this dissertation, I present the score for the opera Ganymede 5 – Act I and the research paper on Kate Soper’s opera Here be Sirens. Ganymede 5 was first written in the summer of 2019 and premiered at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival on 18 September 2019 by ENAensemble at the Plays and Players Studio Theatre. Following this production, the creative team (myself, the librettist Aleksandar Hut Kono, the director Rose Freeman, and our producers Nicole Renna and Anaïs Naharro-Murphy) met and decided that the opera’s first act was dramaturgically unsalvageable. Working with Aleksandar, Rose, and my composition advisor Andrea Clearfield, I set about rewriting the first act. This new act, with an entirely new libretto, new plot, and a larger orchestra is included here in full score. In the paper, I present three approaches to understanding Kate Soper’s 2014 opera Here be Sirens. In the first chapter, I develop an analytical model using Jacques Lacan’s theory of the mirror stage as a scheme to map the evolution of the sirens Polyxo and Peitho. I argue that their evolutionary arcs together form one complete cycle of the mirror stage, where Peitho begins the opera immediately before the mirror stage and finishes well in the middle, while Polyxo starts in the middle of the mirror stage and is ultimately able to exist via sublimation. With this mapping in hand, elements of the musical and dramaturgical unfolding are contextualized, and most importantly, the relationship between speaking and singing is understood. In the second chapter, I look at the diegetic/nondiegetic orientation of the opera’s musical discourse, the narratological registers within which the opera unfolds, and the role eclectic musical styles play in the plot and in the perception and meaning of time. Together, these three windows into the work illuminate a complex, dynamic set of interactions that generate an astonishingly novel but immediately accessible opera. In the third chapter, I present the transcript of an interview I conducted with Kate Soper where we discuss a variety of topics, from the symbolic meaning of spoken language to the practical considerations of using an onstage piano played by the singers. I annotate in footnotes parts of the interview that deal directly with other parts of the analysis, and specifically those parts where Soper’s statements contradict my own analytical conclusions. The last chapter is a brief, rhapsodic consideration of this work as an analyst and composer. It first presents some paths forward for future research using the tools developed and wielded in this analysis. It then moves on to the way my own compositional dispositions framed my analysis and how they are vital to understanding what is included and what is left out of this work. Soper’s compositional voice deserves consideration on a composer-to-composer level, as it challenges some of the prevailing value-systems around contemporary music. To that end, I reconsider my analysis as if it were a composition lesson, looking at what questions – such as those around technique – are not worth asking from a compositional or analytical perspective.
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