The pomegranate cycle : reconfiguring opera through performance, technology & composition

Klein, Eve Elizabeth (2011) The pomegranate cycle : reconfiguring opera through performance, technology & composition. PhD by Creative Works, Queensland University of Technology.


The Pomegranate Cycle is a practice-led enquiry consisting of a creative work and an exegesis. This project investigates the potential of self-directed, technologically mediated composition as a means of reconfiguring gender stereotypes within the operatic tradition. This practice confronts two primary stereotypes: the positioning of female performing bodies within narratives of violence and the absence of women from authorial roles that construct and regulate the operatic tradition. The Pomegranate Cycle redresses these stereotypes by presenting a new narrative trajectory of healing for its central character, and by placing the singer inside the role of composer and producer.

During the twentieth and early twenty-first century, operatic and classical music institutions have resisted incorporating works of living composers into their repertory. Consequently, the canon’s historic representations of gender remain unchallenged. Historically and contemporarily, men have almost exclusively occupied the roles of composer, conductor, director and critic, and therefore men have regulated the pedagogy, performance practices, repertoire and organisations that sustain classical music. In this landscape, women are singers, and few have the means to challenge the constructions of gender they are asked to reproduce. The Pomegranate Cycle uses recording technologies as the means of driving change because these technologies have already challenged the regulation of the classical tradition by changing people’s modes of accessing, creating and interacting with music.

Building on the work of artists including Phillips and van Veen, Robert Ashley and Diamanda Galas, The Pomegranate Cycle seeks to broaden the definition of what opera can be. This work examines the ways in which the operatic tradition can be hybridised with contemporary musical forms such as ambient electronica, glitch, spoken word and concrete sounds as a way of bringing the form into dialogue with contemporary music cultures. The ultilisation of other sound cultures within the context of opera enables women’s voices and stories to be presented in new ways, while also providing a point of friction with opera’s traditional storytelling devices.

The Pomegranate Cycle simulates aesthetics associated with Western art music genres by drawing on contemporary recording techniques, virtual instruments and sound-processing plug-ins. Through such simulations, the work disrupts the way virtuosic human craft has been used to generate authenticity and regulate access to the institutions that protect and produce Western art music. The DIY approach to production, recording, composition and performance of The Pomegranate Cycle demonstrates that an opera can be realised by a single person. Access to the broader institutions which regulate the tradition are not necessary. In short, The Pomegranate Cycle establishes that a singer can be more than a voice and a performing body. She can be her own multimedia storyteller. Her audience can be anywhere.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 51175
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Creative Works)
Supervisor: Knowles, Julian & Vella, Richard
Keywords: music, opera, women, feminism, composition, technology, sound recording, music technology, voice, opera singing, vocal pedagogy, The Pomegranate Cycle, postmodernism, classical music, musical works, virtual orchestras, Persephone, Demeter, The Rape of Persephone, nineteenth century music, musical canons, repertory opera, opera & violence, opera & rape, opera & death, operatic narratives, postclassical music, electronica opera, popular music & opera, experimental opera, feminist musicology, women & composition, contemporary opera, multimedia opera, DIY, DIY & music, DIY & opera
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > Music & Sound
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 27 Jun 2012 07:18
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2012 07:18

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