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Music drama on the concert stage: voice, character and performance in Judith Weir's The Consolations of Scholarship

Abstract

Like several of her early operas, Judith Weir’s The Consolations of Scholarship (1985) lives on the concert stage: the work lasts only twenty-two minutes, there is just one singer, and there are no costumes or scenery. A similar economy and restraint characterizes Weir’s musical language from this period. The essay argues that The Consolations of Scholarship is as much ‘about’ the workings of the genre as it is ‘about’ the story it purports to tell. Indeed, Weir constructs music drama by emphasizing its artificiality, and her reworking of established conventions results in an unusually reflexive form of opera.

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This article is based on my study ‘Music Drama on the Concert Stage: A Study of Judith Weir's “The Consolations of Scholarship” ’, Ph.D. diss. (University of Pittsburgh, 1997). I am grateful to Steven Mulvey and Kofi Agawu for their suggestions on this version and to Akin Euba, Eric Moe, Mathew Rosenblum, and Jerome Schwartz for their comments on earlier drafts. Thanks are also due to Judith Weir for agreeing to participate in the interviews cited in the essay.
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Cambridge Opera Journal
  • ISSN: 0954-5867
  • EISSN: 1474-0621
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-opera-journal
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