In this exposition, you can find all the electronic resources that belong to the book "Släpp sångarna loss! Genus, gestaltingsnormer och konstnärligt handlingsutrymme i opera" ("Unchain the Singer! Gender, Performance Norms and Artistic Agency in Opera") published by Gidlund's publishing house.
My dissertation "Unchain the Singer! Gender, Performance Norms and Artistic Agency in Opera" is taken from an opera singer’s perspective and the aim is three-fold:
• to investigate and problematize how gender and performance norms are reproduced on the opera stage
• to provide tools and propose approaches to transform gender perspective and norm critique into a creative artistic practice, enabling conscious and active artistic choices in relation to gender and performance norms
• to explore ways to expand the singer's artistic agency.
The artistic research project draws on knowledge from both my own practice as a professional opera singer and my collaborators’ experiences from the worlds of opera, classical music and theatre.
The thesis consists of four artistic investigations:
1. In "Mönster och möjligheter" (Patterns and Possibilities), gender markers were explored and identified, both in vocal and dramatic performance. The five Mozart scenes that were studied revealed a structure suggesting that femininity in the operatic art often can be expressed by taking responsibility for the music, for facial features and bodily behaviour, and for the audience. Correspondingly, masculinity seemed to be expressed by actively taking less responsibility in these areas.
2. The second investigation was connected to Norrbottensmusiken's production of the new opera "Under en kvinnas hjärta" (Beneath the Heart of a Woman). This study exposed how performance norms affect singers' artistic possibilities also in contemporary opera. The investigation found that if the director's reading of an opera is norm-creative, it can facilitate a less traditionally gender-coded performance. However, even in more traditional opera productions, there are still options for the singer to work norm-creatively with their role, for example by mixing feminine and masculine gender markers.
3. The third investigation, the concert production "Sångernas sång" (The Song of Songs), explored an expanded artistic agency for the singer. Actively using my experience from my career as an opera singer, I wrote the libretto for the chamber mini-opera "Stark som döden" (Strong as Death) in collaboration with a composer. The study suggested that singers, in addition to their creative work on the role, could also contribute with other important perspectives. Concert and opera productions, as well as newly written works, can be enriched by a dialogue with the singers early on in the artistic process. In the creation of the two roles in the chamber pieces "Hög visa" (Songs of Solomona) and "Stark som döden", useful methods for creating a subject position for the characters were developed, as well as ways to work in a concert situation with the portrayal of sexual desire.
4. The fourth and final investigation, "Interaktion och intimitet" (Interaction and Intimacy), was an exploration of intimate scenes. The study showed that the method and know-how of an intimacy coordinator can provide a sense of security that can make the singers freer in their portrayals of sexuality. A greater focus on the story can also make the scenes more interesting artistically. In addition, this study revealed the potential of an expanded agency for the singers. Allowing singers to adapt the text and the distribution of lines in repertoire opera, as well as creating a more collective rehearsal process, where the singers take an active part in the stage directing work, could open up for more norm-creative representations of gender on stage.