University of Pittsburgh

Colloquium: Melina Esse, Eastman School of Music

132 Music Building, free Reception to follow

Speaking and Sighing: Bellini's canto declamato and the poetics of restraint. This talk explores the common ground (in both rhetoric and aesthetic assumptions) between critical response to Bellini's new, supposedly more "natural" melodic declamation and heated debates in the press (often appearing in the same journals or even authored by the same writers) about female fashion in the 1820s. I ask what "expressive restraint" means in different contexts (both musical and cultural), and look closely at Bellini's La sonnambula in light of its broader critical context, arguing that the issue of Bellini's much-touted revolution in musical in style is more complex than it has been portrayed in the past. Melina Esse is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Her research interests include opera and melodrama, film sound, performance theory, and gender studies. At Eastman, Professor Esse has taught courses in 19th and 20th-century music history, visual spectacle and the modern voice, and singers in 19th-century opera. She has published in the Cambridge Opera Journal (2002) and has presented papers to the American Musicological Society, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the American Society for Theater Research, the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism, the Feminist Theory and Music conference, and the San Francisco and Minnesota Operas. A fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities in 2003-04, she was also the recipient of the Alvin H. Johnson AMS-50 dissertation fellowship and the Mabelle McLeod-Lewis Memorial Fund fellowship.

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