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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