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Series:

Michael Halliwell

Abstract

Opera and film is an area of scholarly endeavour that has engaged a wide variety of methodologies in recent years. The usual areas of investigation include opera on film; opera as film; opera in film, and film in opera. However, film as opera is a relatively new phenomenon. André Previn drew on David Lean’s 1945 film, Brief Encounter, based on Noël Coward’s 1936 play, Still Life, for an opera premiered in 2009. The Kneehigh Theatre Company also used the film as the basis for its 2008 production, Brief Encounter. This paper investigates how these three adaptations of the Coward play draw on different elements of the source work, each finding a distinctive musical response to the play.

Opera and the Novel

The Case of Henry James

Series:

Michael Halliwell

Opera and the Novel: The Case of Henry James offers the first full-length study of the theory and practice of the adaptation of fiction into opera: the transference of a work from one medium to another – metaphrasis – is its point of departure. Starting with a survey of the current thinking regarding the nexus between words and music with specific reference to operatic adaptation of existing literary works, it traces the four-hundred-year history of opera, demonstrating that the novel has become increasingly attractive to librettists and composers as an operatic source. As the resources of modern music theatre have increased in sophistication, so too have the possibilities for an expanded engagement with complex fictional works. The intricate relationship between fictional and musical narrative is examined: the proposition that the orchestra assumes much of the function of the narrator in fiction is explored. The second section is a detailed examination of eight operatic works based on Henry James’s fiction. It is opera’s unique capability to present the intense emotional and psychological situations central to James’s fiction as well as the ability to engage with his synthesis of melodrama and psychological ambiguity which makes James’s work peculiarly amenable to operatic adaptation. Composers who have used James as a source include Douglas Moore, Benjamin Britten, Thomas Pasatieri, Donald Hollier, Thea Musgrave, Philip Hagemann and Dominick Argento. The operas discussed represent a contemporary critical and often self-conscious engagement with the art form itself as well as illustrating current adaptive strategies, and suggest ways in which new operatic paths may be forged. This volume is of relevance to students and scholars of English literature and opera as well as readers who take an interest in intermedial research and the question of adaptation in general.

Edited by Walter Bernhart, Michael Halliwell, Lawrence Kramer and Werner Wolf

The book series Word and Music Studies is the central organ of the International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA), an association founded in 1997 to promote transdisciplinary scholarly inquiry devoted to the relations between literature/verbal texts/language and music. WMA aims to provide an international forum for musicologists, literary and cultural scholars with an interest in intermediality studies and in crossing cultural as well as disciplinary boundaries.
Word and Music Studies publishes theme-oriented volumes and monographs, documenting and critically assessing the scope, theory, methodology, and the disciplinary and institutional dimensions and prospects of the field on an international scale.

For specific information on the editing of WMS volumes and style information please visit the WMS Style Guide below.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to the publisher at BRILL, Masja Horn.

Edited by Walter Bernhart, Michael Halliwell, Lawrence Kramer and Werner Wolf

The book series Word and Music Studies is the central organ of the International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA), an association founded in 1997 to promote transdisciplinary scholarly inquiry devoted to the relations between literature/verbal texts/language and music. WMA aims to provide an international forum for musicologists, literary and cultural scholars with an interest in intermediality studies and in crossing cultural as well as disciplinary boundaries.
Word and Music Studies publishes theme-oriented volumes and monographs, documenting and critically assessing the scope, theory, methodology, and the disciplinary and institutional dimensions and prospects of the field on an international scale.

For specific information on the editing of WMS volumes and style information please visit the WMS Style Guide below.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to the publisher at BRILL, Masja Horn.