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The Careers of Jenny Lind and Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient: A Comparison
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Music and Art.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Music and Art. (LNUC IMS)
2015 (English)In: Begegnung – Vermittlung – Innovation: Annäherungen an Musik- und Kompositionspraktiken im Europa des 19. Jahrhunderts / [ed] Melanie von Goldbeck, Christine Hoppe, Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2015, 1, 85-132 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2015, 1. 85-132 p.
Series
Internationaler Kongress der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Freie Referate, 15:1
Keyword [en]
Jenny Lind, Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, 19th-century opera, singing, embodiment, gender, public image
National Category
Musicology
Research subject
Humanities, Musicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-47669ISBN: 978-3-86395-224-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-47669DiVA: diva2:874656
Note

Introduction

Since the onset of capitalism in the seventeenth century which happened parallel to the dissemination of opera – the most prominent music genre of that time – certain opera singers have received special attention. In the eighteenth century, it was the castratos who were written about and even worshipped to a large extent by their (mostly aristocratic) audiences. In that same century, a cult of opera singers had begun, which still forms part of contemporary opera life although it has been on the wane since the second half of the twentieth century. In the early nineteenth century, the focus shifted from the castrato singers to the prima donnas. It was these singers who were now mostly dominating the public discourses about opera performances, largely due to their successful self-marketing efforts, thus earning themselves the highest salaries among all musicians of their time.

Our essay is on two of the most prominent prima donnas of the early nineteenth century, Jenny Lind (1820–1887) and Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient (1804– 1860). These singers are suitable for a study of the music market. Our aim is to demonstrate how broad and diversified the music market of their time had already become. We chose two opera sopranos who lived at the same time, sang at the same opera houses, met high esteem nationally and internationally, had outstanding international careers and even similar role repertoires. However, their way of singing and embodying their parts, their public image and the way in which they were celebrated show more differences than similarities. As a matter of fact, their careers and artistic abilities seem to have been in contrast to each other, if notcontrary. Moreover, working on the theatrical stage as a woman in the nineteenth century was regarded as ambiguous and problematic, to say the least. For this reason, questions about gender and performativity are easily raised, and facts about nineteenth-century opinions and discourses regarding gender and performativity become clearer in the context of women in opera, rather than in the context of women singing in concerts. Although both singers started second careers as concert singers after they made their farewell from the opera stage, we are not dealing with these activities here. Further, their second careers can hardly be compared: while Lind became, perhaps, even more famous during her long second career, Schröder-Devrient appeared to be only a shadow of her former self when shesang in occasional concerts.

We are going to compare the following aspects of these two opera singers and their exceptional careers:

1. their biographical background as far as relevant to our other aspects;2. detailed descriptions of their singing voices;3. their operaticrepertoires and favouriteroles;4. the dramaticembodiment of their roles;5. their publicimages and their professional networks.

The section on Jenny Lind is written by Ingela Tägil and related to her thesis Jenny Lind. The impact of her voice on media identity (2013). This part of theessay investigates which factors contributed to this image of her. Some anonymous reviewers are quoted. In these cases, the journal itself is used as the reference. The section on Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient is written by and part of the research conducted by Martin Knust on various famous Wagner singers.

Available from: 2015-11-27 Created: 2015-11-27 Last updated: 2015-11-30Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
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  • de-DE
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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