Session|séance 10.2. Social Ecologies of Music, Too.
Room 11-463. Chair: Chandelle Rimmer.
Friday|vendredi 25 May|mai 2018. 3:30 - 4:30PM
10.1.1. Colonial Legitimacy in the Early Operas of István Anhalt
Zachary Milliman, McGill University
Hungarian Canadian composer István Anhalt’s first two “mind operas,” La Tourangelle (1975) and Winthrop (1983) take as their subjects’ two colonial figures of the New World: the Francophone Marie de l’Incarnation and Anglophone John Winthrop respectively. Anhalt referred to the eponymous characters these operas as “spiritual guides” in learning about his new home in Canada, and conflated the experience of colonialists and immigrants. The composer himself rejected the label of “exile” often applied to him and rather saw his emigration as part of his ongoing self-realization. He mapped this onto his operatic protagonists as well and focused on the hero journey of his subjects. In so doing, Anhalt projected colonial legitimacy: immigrants and colonialists alike experience what Heidegger called Geworfenheit (throwness) and multiplicity, with the New World providing liberation for the composer and his musical subjects. This approach in effect subverted some of the complicated issues inherent in the title characters’ colonial enterprises, specifically vis-à-vis their impact on the indigenous population.
Because Anhalt saw these figures as two of Canada’s most influential figures that bequeathed an important heritage, it behooves us to question what that heritage is and how it finds expression today. The goal of this study is to situate these works in post- colonial discourse and to identify the colonial dialogics at play in order to operatically investigate narratives that deny utterance to the indigenous voice. This paper thus participates in the ongoing process of problematizing inherited narratives of colonialism and colonial figures through discursive analysis of the operas, specifically engaging with the semiotics of representation, identity politics, and religion.
Sharon Krebs, Independent Scholar
Jenny Lind: it is almost impossible to think of her name without adding the words “the Swedish nightingale.” Many singers later in the 19th century picked up on the incredible marketing power of the label “nightingale,” but Jenny Lind was the first and most famous of the nightingales.
Research into the depiction of nightingales in published and unpublished literary material from the 19th century reveals the complexity and depth of the metaphor. To name but a few of its aspects: beauty (both sound and physical appearance) is irrelevant; nightingale song is natural; it penetrates one’s innermost being and is incredibly moving; nightingales operate on the highest plane (Kierkegaard’s ‘religious’, Boethius’ ‘celestial’).
How well do these characteristics of nightingales map onto that quintessential nightingale, Jenny Lind? That question may be answered not only by combing through contemporary critical reception (e.g., that of Robert Schumann, Eduard Hanslick, and Giacomo Meyerbeer), but also by studying poems written in Lind’s honour. She was praised by numerous poets, both famous (e.g., Franz Grillparzer, Klaus Groth, Friedrich Rückert, and John Clare) and less well known (e.g., Natalie von Herder, Apollonius von Maltitz, Elfriede von Mühlenfels, and Hermann Rollett). Not all nightingale characteristics are to be found in each of the critical and poetic sources, but it is astonishing how frequently they do occur and how the richness of metaphor is reflected in the laudatory poems and critical accounts. Jenny Lind did indeed deserve her title.