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4.48 Psychosis: opera as music and text

Venables, P. (2016). 4.48 Psychosis: opera as music and text. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Guildhall School of Music & Drama / City, University of London)


This is a practice-based research project about a new operatic adaptation of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis (Methuen, 2000). The opera was written and the research conducted during a three-year Doctoral Composer-in-Residence scheme with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (GSMD) and the Royal Opera House (ROH). This commentary, together with the score and supporting materials, outlines various compositional approaches to working with non-sung text in opera. This research expands the composer’s previous practice of working with spoken text in concert music, and places this opera in the context of that previous work and the work of other composers, theatre-makers and electronic music artists. Five specific approaches to non-sung text are discussed in detail, always with reference to the dramaturgy of Kane’s text and drawing on examples from the opera: four concerned with spoken text (the ‘Opera Thought-Bubble’, Voiceover, Mid-phrase Switching, Tape-cutting) and one concerned with visually-presented text (Percussion Dialogues). The five approaches are evaluated in context of the premiere performances of the opera in May 2016, and the potential for further practice-based research on this topic is discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: The full score is available for viewing at City, University of London Library.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Text - Accepted Version
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