The voice presented in this NO PAPER PRESENTATION cannot be imagined as separated from any bodily act or matter. It intoxicates all along without an end. This voice emerges out of No Thing (Calcagno 2003). It would not claim to be in a specific relation to gender, class, ethnicity or other classification, yet this voice can be identified as "an imaginary figure of any thing"; a paradoxical voice performed and presented out of unexpected encounters with whatever meaning there might be. This voice can be traced to 17th century Venetian music drama stages - considered to be a symbol for Nothingness as specifically performed in operatic mad scenes. This NO PAPER presents a development of an artistic doctoral project on 'how to perform vocal nothingness' (Belgrano 2011). In the current study a Baradian (feminist) diffractive methodology is applied (Barad 2007, 2012), allowing vocal practice to intra-act continuously with any matter or meaning encountered along the road, by "re-diffracting, diffracting anew, in the making of new temporalities (spacetimematterings)" (Barad 2014). Through this performative approach VOICE argues that vocal identity can be viewed as an entangled dance - where sound, thoughts, judgements, senses, madness, matter, chaos, vibrations and so on cannot be separated from one another - "endlessly opening itself up to a variety of possible and impossible reconfigurings" (Hinton 2013). The result that emerges from this trans-spatiotemporal study is a sensuous queering of operatic vocality that allows individuals to experience a monstrous voice as Any Thing or No Thing, following a discourse on Nothingness that had a fundamental impact on 17th century operatic vocality and on the birth of music drama.  

KEYWORDS: Voice, Any / No / Thing, Barad, Intra-action, Diffraction, Baroque, Opera, Music Drama, Vocal Performance Research,

An academy cared for debating

and conversing.

Anything was on their mind.

Knowing from the unknown

was part of their emblem.

They called themselves



One conversation developed

into a serious debate between Venetian and Parisian academics

on the topic of Nothingness.

The result:

VOICE became equal to NOTHINGNESS.

(Calcagno 2003, Belgrano 2011)

The year was 1641.

The place was at the Teatro Novissimo

in Venice.

The scene was mad.

Or Feigned mad.

The newly composed opera was

La Finta Pazza.

(Belgrano 2011:243)


The academic strategies

where performative

and driven by madness.

Or feigned madness.

Voice spoke meaning.

Coloring every word with thousand different meanings.

Some spoken.

Some in silence.

Meaning appeared in and between words.

A word embodied meaning –

spoken and in silence.

There were tears,

laughter, death, despair,

leaps between wor/l/ds

making absolute non/sense.

The orna/menting voice says:

“I care and cure

for making meaning

at the very beginning.

This is the process performing-as-doing: Everything begins again and again.

Always a new beginning.”

(Belgrano, in press)

Voice kept thinking while in silence.

How could all this (feigned) madness

be met?

What does happen inside a listener?

What happens inside a group of listeners? What is incorporated into the act

of making non/sense

that can be figured visually?

When is an identity?

What makes an identity an identity?

“Hidden behind the discrete and independent objects of the sense world is an entangled realm, in which the simple notions of identity and locality no longer apply” (Barad 2012:8)

“The intimate touch of nothingness is threaded through all being/becoming, a tangible indeterminacy that goes to the heart of matter. Matter is not iteratively reconstituted through various intra-actions, it is also infinitely and infinitesimally shot through with alterity”

(Barad 2012:8)


Barad, K. (2012, v1.1) On Touching—The Inhuman That Therefore I Am, differences, 23(3): 206-223, current version pp. 1-16, http://planetarities.web.unc.edu/files/2015/01/barad-on-touching.pdf [accessed 15/03/2019]

Belgrano, Elisabeth (2011) “Lasciatemi morire” o faro “La Finta Pazza”: Embodying Vocal Nothingness on Stage in 17th Century Italian and French Operatic Laments and Mad Scenes, ArtMonitor, doctoral diss. Gothenburg, 2011, https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/397858/397859 [accessed 15/03/2019]

Belgrano, E. (in press) A Singing Orna/Mentor's Performance or Ir/rational Practice, Research Catalogue (2019) https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/402061/402062/0/0 [accessed 15/03/2019]

Calcagno, M. (2003) Signifying Nothing: On the Aesthetics of Pure Voice in Early Venetian Opera, The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 20, Nr. 4, s. 461-497.



This NO PAPER is in progress on-line:



Ⓒ Elisabeh L. Belgrano & Björn Ross



Inter Arts Center, Lund Univ.


Nordic Network for Early Opera & Nordic Network for Vocal Performance Research


I keep on looking

into the eyes of the other.

Eyes are like fires.



Attached to the gaze

comes a demanding question.

Posed in silence.

Critically acted out.


Demanding a response.

The gaze of the other

is returning with a shot.

A dialogue is developing.

Through burning fires.

Response is brutal.

Criticality is ready to stab.

To kill.

To disconnect.

To disrupt.