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The Castrato Conundrum: Gender and Sexuality in Baroque Opera

Start Date: October 05 5:00 PM
This event is open to the public

Brace Student Fellow Presentation: Janice Cheon ’16

Castrati, in their time a much-prized phenomenon in baroque opera, were male singers who were purposefully castrated before puberty to maintain their high, unbroken voice. In her research, Janice Cheon ’16 examines how political, cultural, and gender conventions influenced European opera of the 17th and 18th centuries, explaining the rise and fall of castrati during that period. She then looks at how modern gender and sexuality norms complicate the staging of baroque opera originally composed for castrati.

Through a close reading of several operas, including Monteverdi’s L’incoron-azione di Poppea, as well as recordings by singers such as Alessandro Moreschi, Cheon presents a compelling picture of the castrati as early examples of a complex gender fluidity. Her paper flouts preexisting notions about what defines masculinity and femininity and poses that seeing this diversity on stage may help us break our heteronormative mindset.

5–6:30 p.m.
School Room (3rd floor of Abbot Hall)
Free and open to the public
Dinner will be served

Faculty Advisor: Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music

The Brace Center for Gender Studies is an academic resource center where students and faculty learn more about research on gender.