Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Department

Music

Committee Chair

Dr. Maryann Kyle

Committee Chair Department

Music

Committee Member 2

Dr. J. Taylor Hightower

Committee Member 2 Department

Music

Committee Member 3

Dr. Susan Ruggiero

Committee Member 3 Department

Music

Committee Member 4

Dr. Daniel Beard

Committee Member 4 Department

Music

Committee Member 5

Dr. Christopher Goertzen

Committee Member 5 Department

Music

Abstract

Francis Poulenc’s 1959 opera, La Voix humaine provides uncommon opportunities for divergent character interpretations and unique challenges to the performer. The opera chronicles the final telephone conversation between the sole character and her estranged lover. The opera’s format is unprecedented; because the audience does not hear Monsieur’s responses, the performer must create and portray them through her reactions, a challenge unique to this work. Through the exploration of four distinct characterizations, I discuss the choices and ramifications for the woman’s demeanor towards other people on the telephone line, her relationship with the man, the function of the various musical motives employed throughout the opera, and her fate at the end of the opera, offering performers of the opera various interpretations from which to choose, and adding depth and insight to Madame’s character. I examine the libretto, musical motives, and various other musical elements to develop the characterizations. I consult and apply information from several extra-musical sources, including historical, psychological, medical sources, and the play on which the opera is based. I also include two appendices: an interview with sopranos Emily Hindrichs and Camille Zamora, both of whom have performed the opera multiple times, and an idiomatic translation of the libretto.

There are limitless possibilities in the interpretation of this role; it is my hope that this document will offer creative insight and inspiration for anyone who endeavors to sing this role.

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