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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: 'Carnival': The Figure of the 'She-male' in Opera
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Pádhraic Ó Cuinneagáin
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2013
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (39pp)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama
Abstract: The Carnival serason was one of the freedoms; freedom from the Church and State, from class boundaries, from gender segregation, and was the perfect atmosphere within which to interrogate and eancipate leading idealogies during the period of Enlightenment, which was concerned with what it means to be human and a functioning member of Western civilisation. Opear, with its complex forms was experiencing a high level of production during the eighteenth century, and it was predominantly produced for performance during the Carnival season, which would run for two months usually. Borrowing conventions from Carnival and incorporating them into the rich texture inherent in Operatic performance created a unique artistic platform for women in particular to explore their sexuality and class disctinction, and to fracture what the West had deemed to be 'feminine'. The carnivalesque convention of cross-dressing, or travesty, is one of the fascinating ways in which women could transcend the restrictions of their sex and gain some of the power enjoyed by men. This MMus paper will investigate how Opera, under the unbrella of the larger phenomena of Carnival, became one of the most subversive, seductive, and ultimately freeing of art forms for women to exploit and enjoy in their attemps to gain atuonomy in society: and how the carnival and travesty found its ultimate advocate in the genius of Mozart and his wily page boy, Cherubino.

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