Dissertation Index



Author: Follet, Diane W.

Title: Echo - A Chamber Opera in One Act: The Woman's Voice in the Twentieth Century

Institution: University of Northern Colorado

Begun: August 1997

Completed: August 2000

Abstract:

Echo, an original composition, is a one-act opera for soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, two non-speaking actors, and chamber orchestra. The opera is intended for performance by an intermediate or advanced college or university opera theater. An interdisciplinary approach searches for the woman’s voice as it maps a methodology for composing an effective music drama.

The libretto, adapted by the composer and Janice Dickensheets, is from the one-act play of the same name by Joseph T. Shipley. It is the story of the internal struggle of the hero, an unsuccessful playwright in 1920s New York, and the creative manipulations of his partner, the female protagonist. Comic relief is provided by the two "warriors," "I" and "Myself", the emotional and rational sides of the hero’s mind, as they engage in battle.

A synopsis of the story and production notes provide direction for future stagings of the work. An analysis of the music furnishes interpretive guidance. For example, the frequent appearance of the tritone underscores the sinister nature of the many forces at work in the hero’s life, and this unifying factor should be emphasized in performance.

The supporting research is an integrated study. A survey of selected early twentieth-century operas reveals that the lyric stage reflected the times. The diversity of approaches to the female characters in these works is germane to an accurate portrayal of the protagonist in Echo.

In further research, selected one-act operas by other American women composers, contemporaries of this author, represent the woman’s voice at the end of the twentieth century. The musical gestures in these operas provide tools for the composition of Echo.

Successful dramaturgy depends upon specificity of time and place, even if the story is universal. Adding period authenticity to Echo mandates a socio-historical overview of the early twentieth century, the time of the play. This study enables the discovery and discernment of the voice of Echo’s protagonist as a woman of her era.

The supporting research informs the composition of Echo as it listens for the woman’s voice in the twentieth-century.

Keywords: chamber opera, twentieth century, opera composers, opera librettists, opera heroines, women composers

TOC:

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION AND FORMATION OF THE STUDY
Introduction
Purpose of the Study
Scope of the Study
Significance of the Study
Organization of the Study
Conclusion

II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
The Literature Search
Review of Selected Early Twentieth-Century Operas
Review of Selected Late Twentieth-Century Operas

III. METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
Introduction
Socio-historical Overview
The 1920s
The Womanís Voice
Analytical Methodologies
Design of the Composition

IV. ECHO
Synopsis
Biography of Joseph T. Shipley (1893-1988)
Complete Libretto
Production Notes
Analysis
Score

V. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDIX A AUDIENCE STATISTICS
APPENDIX B COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
VITA

Contact:

Dr. Diane Follet
Department of Music
Muhlenberg College
2400 Chew St.
Allentown, PA 18104
484-664-3362
dfollet@muhlenberg.edu


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