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MAMZER/BASTARD: Incorporating Jewish Cantorial Music into Contemporary Opera

Zisser, Na'ama (2019). MAMZER/BASTARD: Incorporating Jewish Cantorial Music into Contemporary Opera. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

Abstract

This practice-based research supports the creation of my opera MAMZER/BASTARD, a new operatic work for performance by an Orthodox Jewish Cantor and opera singers, staged by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The context for this research project is the doctoral composer-in-residence scheme in association with the Royal Opera House (ROH) and the
Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD).

The research sets out to explore the juxtaposition of opera and Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish Orthodox Cantorial Music. It builds upon my personal history and background with Cantorial music traditions and expands on my previous experience in bringing together different genres and musical practices in my stage works.

As this musical tradition is little known in the West, the focus of this practice-based research project was to contextualise this musical world in a theatrical and dramatic environment, specifically: 1) examining the tradition of Cantorial Music, in particular its relation with opera and drama; 2) finding an appropriate dramaturgical framework in which to place this music. The methodology used to examine and establish a relationship between the Cantorial Music tradition and my own compositional operatic practice focuses on four key aspects: Found Material, Jewish Prayer Modes, Heritage and Hauntology and Cantorial Improvisation.

As will be discussed, a historical connection between opera and Cantorial Music exists; however, to the best of my knowledge, this has never been explored in an impactful way that has resulted in significant new work, contributing to new knowledge and offering an insight into a type of musical tradition largely unknown to western audiences.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses
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Text (Musical Score) - Accepted Version
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Text (Opera libretto) - Accepted Version
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Text (Commentary) - Accepted Version
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