Disability Representation in Opera

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Deadly diseases and unhealing wounds, visual impairments and deafness, lost limbs and spinal deformities: opera has long been an artform that depicts disability. Further to disability’s representation in librettos and scores, opera productions both on stage and on our screens provide a form of mediation between the cultural-historical origins of opera’s disability narratives and the politics and practice of “performing” disability amid contemporary debates about diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this way, opera provides a vantage point from which to explore key issues in music and disability studies: from inaccessible spaces and education programmes to demeaning, stereotypical roles and problematic performance practices. This chapter unpicks some of these issues by exploring the data gathered in the Musical Representations of Disability Database, and by highlighting operatic works and practices that interrogate and extend the creative possibilities of opera’s frequent engagement with disability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVoices for Change in the Classical Music Profession
Subtitle of host publicationNew ideas for tackling inequalities and exclusions
EditorsAnna Bull, Christina Scharff, Laudan Nooshin
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Dec 2021

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