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A Performer's Guide to John Musto's Penelope: A Cycle of Seven Songs for Soprano and Piano

Description: Award-winning composer John Musto stands at the forefront of modern American art-song composition. Many of his songs, such as "Litany" from Shadow of the Blues, have already achieved a place in the standard contemporary repertory for singers. His compositional technique weaves influences of jazz, blues, ragtime, and popular music with classical technique to make music that is decidedly modern but accessible and well liked both by critics and audiences. Unfortunately, though he is still actively composing, very little has been written about Musto and there is a lack of information available about his more recent compositions. This performance guide addresses one of Musto's acclaimed song cycles, Penelope, (a cycle of seven songs for soprano and piano) commissioned and premiered in 2000. The story of the cycle is an updated version of the character Penelope from Homer's The Odyssey and was a collaboration between Musto and poet Denise Lanctot. Including interviews with Musto, and his wife, soprano Amy Burton, who premiered the cycle and for whom it was written, the document provides background information on how the cycle was conceived and gives in-depth performance information on each of the seven songs of Penelope. In addition to musical examples and poetry from the songs, this study also contains a catalogue of Musto's compositions listing premiere dates, performers, and information about the commission of each work.
Access: This item is restricted to UNT Community Members. Login required if off-campus.
Date: December 2005
Creator: Kanakis, Karen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Jules Massenet's Musical Prosody Focusing on His Eight Song Cycles And A Collection, Expressions Lyriques: A Lecture Recital, Together with Recitals of Selected Works of W. A. Mozart, F. Schubert, C. Debussy, R. Strauss, D. Argento, V. Bellini, J. Marx, W. Walton, C. Gounod, A. Scarlatti, G. Fauré, J. Rodrigo, H. Wolf, and Others

Description: Jules Massenet's mélodies feature a distinct vocal treatment regarding musical prosody through his eight song cycles, including Poëme d'Avril, Poëme Pastoral, Poëme du Souvenir, Poëme d'Amour, Poëme d'Hiver, Poëme d'un Soir, and Quelques Chansons Mauves, and a collection, Expressions Lyriques. These mélodies show the influence of the trend of salon music and the high-level poetry from the poetic movements of romanticism, Parnassianism, and symbolism. This study deals with Massenet's mélodies relating to the prosody idea, which is conspicuous in his vocal treatment. His melodic styles feature four distinct aspects of vocal treatment including lyrical, recitative or parlando, melodramatic, and déclamation rhythmée, and represent the idea of musical prosody of phonetic, syntactic, and semantic aspects. Massenet's other musical idioms such as harmony, form, and piano treatment, are also closely related to the prosody matter as a semantic aspect, reinforcing the poetic mood and content. In this study, each melodic style related to French versification is examined in detail. The musical analysis regarding the other musical idioms on selected examples presents the semantic feature of prosody idea. The brief review of French versification and opinions regarding the performance are included. Massenet's contribution to the genre of mélodie, with the prose melody and treatment of piano as an equal partner of voice line, is clearly demonstrated. With this contribution, Massenet should be recognized as the most influential composer to the climatic time of French mélodie led by Fauré, and Debussy, and Duparc.
Date: December 2000
Creator: Chae, Eunhee
Partner: UNT Libraries

Voice Building Exercises From the Cornelius L Reid Archive: an Introduction

Description: The study introduces the Cornelius Reid Archive and provides biographical and functional context for Reid’s teaching method, which he referred to as functional voice training. Biography, summary of Reid’s ideas on environmental control and vocal registration, together with descriptions taken from Reid’s own writings of the function and purpose of various exercises transcribed from the Archive, constitute the primary chapters. Appendices include complete transcription of ca. 170 exercises and several illustrations of Dr. Douglas Stanley’s overt teaching methods.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Yarrington, Jonathan S.
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Contemporary Application of Boris Goldovsky’s Method for Training the Operatic Singer-actor: a Model for Today’s University Opera Workshop Instructor

Description: Throughout the twentieth century, Boris Goldovsky (1908-2001) played a significant role in training the operatic singer-actor. One of his most significant contributions was integrating music and drama. He taught his students how to develop a character, how to find dramatic clues in the music, and to become expressive artists free from monotonous operatic gestures and posturing. As author of the first textbook for training the operatic singer-actor, his curriculum was developed from experience, acting traditions, and mentor-student relationships. A new forum, Opera Workshop, allowed him to experiment and test his methods. Although Goldovsky is known to some scholars as the “Father of Training the Operatic Singer-Actor,” his presence in modern day training material is almost non-existent. How can we understand the needs of educating today’s operatic singer-actor without knowing the very foundation upon which it was built? This paper applies Goldovsky’s method of training to a staging and performance of Act II scene I from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Providing this modern application of his training will demonstrate the relevance of his contributions for educators in a contemporary university setting. My findings suggest that Goldovsky’s approach and philosophy to training the young singer-actor provides practical and valuable knowledge that is still viable for today’s university singer-actor educator.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Glidden, Jennifer
Partner: UNT Libraries

Defining the Contralto Voice Through the Repertoire of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Description: At the beginning of the twentieth century, the recognition of the contralto voice type had reached its apex in England. Throughout the remainder of the century, the number and popularity of recorded contraltos has decreased alongside the rise of the mezzo-soprano voice type. Due to the contralto’s decline and the lack of repertoire composed specifically for the voice, the definition of “contralto” remains somewhat ambiguous. The large contralto repertoire of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams displays a unique sensitivity to the contralto, particularly with regards to vocal range, flexibility, tessitura, and sustainability. These works thus suggest a new perspective for the voice type. The scope of Vaughan Williams’s oeuvre examined includes each of his operatic roles for contralto and choral works featuring the contralto. Also examined will be the compositional techniques implemented within these pieces which demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the contralto voice. A workable definition of the voice type for the pedagogue and performer is included.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Daniels, Sarah M.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Selected Operas of Isabelle Aboulker As Repertoire for the University Opera Studio

Description: Aboulker’s operatic works present an opportunity for opera workshop programs in the United States to perform contemporary operatic works in a foreign language, revitalizing the operatic repertoire and giving students the opportunity to prepare and perform roles without the weight and influence of significant performance history. Aboulker’s style, which has been called “effectively simple,” allows developing students to work on new French language repertoire without the burden of excessively difficult or atonal vocal lines. Aboulker’s works are tuneful and humorous and her longest operatic work lasts a mere hour and a half. These qualities also serve to mitigate the challenge presented to the student by the French language. Many of Aboulker’s works are conceived specifically to be performed with piano only, or have already been published in piano reduction. Most of her operatic works are very short or divide easily into scenes that could be performed separately where the performance of a longer work is either not feasible or not desired. All of these characteristics combine to make the operas of Isabelle Aboulker a viable repertoire option for the university opera studio.
Date: December 2014
Creator: O'Keefe, Patricia Beatrice
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Influence of Indigenous Bushmen Musical Elements and Significant Compositional Traits on Niel Van Der Watt’s Song Cycle, Die Wind Dreun Soos ‘N Ghoera, ‘N Siklus Boesman-mites

Description: In Ghoera, Afrika-verse vir kinders, poet Hennie Aucamp demonstrates an affiliation with and reflection of his surroundings, such as the tribal communities he experienced as a child. This group of African children’s poems, published by Protea Boekhuis in 2011, became the source of inspiration for composer Niel van der Watt’s song cycle Die wind dreun soos ‘n ghoera, ‘n Siklus Boesman-mites. This study investigates and identifies significant compositional traits that contributed to van der Watt’s song cycle. To explore and understand the nature of such influences, the second chapter considers the composer’s early childhood; religious world views; student life; social, environmental, and political ideas; personal tonal language; and western musical elements. To ascertain possible indigenous Bushmen musical elements in van der Watt’s song cycle, the third chapter traces the history of the Bushmen and their marginalization, followed by a brief survey of historical writings on Bushmen music, and an identification process utilizing musicologist Percival R. Kirby’s research on Bushmen music as a foundation. The fourth chapter explores the origins of the cycle and other significant compositional influences. This study suggests that Hennie Aucamp’s poetry and Niel van der Watt’s song cycle represent a reconciling vehicle for cross-cultural understanding generating awareness and greater appreciation of the life, myths, oral traditions, and the music of the Bushmen.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Bester, Christiaan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Uniting Commedia Dell’arte Traditions with the Spieltenor Repertoire

Description: Sixteenth century commedia dell’arte actors relied on gaudy costumes, physical humor and improvisation to entertain audiences. the Spieltenor in the modern operatic repertoire has a similar comedic role. Would today’s Spieltenor benefit from consulting the commedia dell’arte’s traditions? to answer this question, I examine the commedia dell’arte’s history, stock characters and performance traditions of early troupes. the Spieltenor is discussed in terms of vocal pedagogy and the fach system. I reference critical studies of the commedia dell’arte, sources on improvisatory acting, articles on theatrical masks and costuming, the commedia dell’arte as depicted by visual artists, commedia dell’arte techniques of movement, stances and postures. in addition, I cite vocal pedagogy articles, operatic repertoire and sources on the fach system. My findings suggest that a valid relationship exists between the commedia dell’arte stock characters and the Spieltenor roles in the operatic repertoire. I present five case studies, pairing five stock characters with five Spieltenor roles. Suggestions are provided to enhance the visual, physical and dramatic elements of each role’s performance. I conclude that linking a commedia dell’arte stock character to any Spieltenor role on the basis of shared traits offers an untapped resource to create distinctive characterizations based on theatrical traditions.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Trahan, Corey
Partner: UNT Libraries

The influence of Sister Helen Prejean on the life and work of Jake Heggie as seen in the song cycle The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations on Love.

Description: Jake Heggie, American art song and opera composer, began his association with Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ when he composed Dead Man Walking, an operatic adaptation of her memoirs. Though from two very different backgrounds, the two developed a deep friendship and spiritual bond that provided the impetus for further compositions dealing with spirituality. Heggie adapted Prejean's meditations as a text for his song cycle The Deepest Desire in 2002, producing what he considers to be his finest work to date. Using The Deepest Desire as a gateway, this paper explores the social and cultural aspects of their association, revealing their personal perspectives on their relationship, collaborations, and shared sense of spirituality. Chapters include the biographies and spiritual philosophies of both Heggie and Prejean, Heggie's compositional style, Dead Man Walking, a performance analysis of The Deepest Desire, and the continuing influence of the relationship between Heggie and Prejean on Heggie's work. The appendix includes transcriptions of personal interviews with both individuals, Prejean's original meditation texts, correspondence with Heggie, Prejean, and Joyce DiDonato, and performance notes for The Deepest Desire derived from a musical coaching with the composer.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Beasley, Rebecca Choate
Partner: UNT Libraries

"The Wider View": Engaging a New Generation of Singers through African-American Art Song

Description: Through studying the poetry and its context, the lives of the poets and composers, and the musical choices which emerged from these combined influences, students of the "Millennial" generation may experience a deeper connection to art song and its role in defining and reflecting national character. Not yet a part of the traditional canon of American art song, the songs of African-American composers are of particular value in this regard, offering teachers, students, and recitalists less frequently-performed repertoire to explore. Representing a broad spectrum of literary and cultural influences, these songs are just as diverse, multi-faceted, and full of variety as any other body of art song repertoire and richly contribute to the past and present life of the genre. Going beyond the music and the words can only reinforce the study of technique and enrich the studio experience, while at the same time providing a multicultural learning environment which more accurately reflects the America in which these same students will become the singers and voice teachers of tomorrow.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Ciobanu, Jennifer Odom
Partner: UNT Libraries

"Do You Remember?": Remembering Gay Victims of the Holocaust Through Jake Heggie's Theater Piece, For a Look or a Touch

Description: American composer Jake Heggie's For a Look or a Touch exists as the only classical music work of remembrance based on the topic of remembering homosexual victims of the Holocaust. The composer, after being approached by Mina Miller, wrote this 2007 composition as part of the Music of Remembrance concert series. The music of this work varies in style from a blazing swing dance to a haunting vocalise on "oo." Gene Scheer created the text, delivered in the work by the characters Manfred Lewin and Gad Beck, as a compilation of many influential stories from the documentary film Paragraph 175. For a Look or a Touch chronicles the horrendous treatment of homosexuals before, during, and after World War II. Chapters include an introduction to homosexual persecution during Hitler's reign, a look at current works of remembrance and how For a Look or a Touch came to fruition, an explanation of the texts created by Gene Scheer, a discussion on Jake Heggie's musical setting of this text, and avenues for possible future research. Appendices include text of the German anti-sodomy laws as written in Paragraph 175, the mission statement for the organization Music of Remembrance, transcripts from personal interviews with both Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, correspondence with Heggie, and the source delineation of Gene Scheer's text.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Rinaldi, Joseph Warren
Partner: UNT Libraries

Sun (1966): Eight Poems in One Movement for Solo Voice and Orchestra By Ned Rorem: Background, Analysis, and Performance Guide

Description: The purpose of the document is to present Ned Rorem’s Sun (1966): Eight Poems in One Movement for Solo Voice and Orchestra. the eight songs are “To the Sun,” “Sun of the Sleepless,” “Dawn,” “Day,” “Catafalque,” “Full Many a Glorious Morning,” “Sundown Lights,” and “From What Can I Tell My Bones?” the document is divided into four main chapters: 1) Background; 2) Poet and Poem Background; 3) Musical Analysis; 4) Performance Guide. Chapter 1 contains biographical information on Ned Rorem, and basic information of the work, Sun. Here, a relationship between the eight songs is presented. Chapter 2 discusses biography of poet and background of the poem. the poetry is examined to determine the theme and to identify imagery, and metaphor. Chapter 3 offers detailed musical analysis for each of the eight songs and interludes. Chapter 4 provides performance guide which offers assistance in forming personal interpretation and brief specifies to singers who wish to perform this work. Appendix a includes tonality, difficulty, tempo, form, theme, range, and orchestration of each song and interlude. This study serves as a reference guide for performers of Sun.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Jung, Soohee
Partner: UNT Libraries