Stravinsky’s opera in a postmodern age: an intermedial semiotic reading
McKay, N. 2018. Stravinsky’s opera in a postmodern age: an intermedial semiotic reading. in: Maeder, C. and Reybrouck, M. (ed.) Making Sense of Music: Studies in Musical Semiotics Leuven Leuven University Press. pp. 387-402
|Editors||Maeder, C. and Reybrouck, M.|
In response to Taruskin’s (1995, 2003a) new-historicist challenge to Stravinsky’s music and iconic reputation, Van den Toorn (2000) asked the question: ‘will Stravinsky survive postmodernism?’. The battle lines of this debate were drawn between respective contextualist and formalist camps; the latter accused of operating under a mythological belief in the perceived radicalism of Stravinsky’s syntax and a collective blind spot about its troubling semantics. The ensuing syntactic (formalist)-semantic (extra musical) tussle briefly touched upon issues of pragmatics (the effect on the listener) arising from the differing theatre and concert versions of The Rite but largely confined itself to the musical score and historical document.
This already dialogised (syntactic vs semantic) meta-identity crisis over Stravinsky’s music assumes a greater semiotic-hermeneutic complexity when issues of intermedial (Bay-Cheng, 2010; Chapple & Kattenbelt, 2006) pragmatics enter the frame. This is particularly evident in analyses of three Stravinsky opera productions that add startling new layers of signification: Taymour's 1993 film version of Oedipus Rex; Lepage’s radical 2007 staging of The Rake’s Progress and Chaudet’s 2005 computer animated film adaptation for television of Le Rossignol.
Respectively these three productions further dialogise (Hatten, 2004; Korsyn, 1999) Stravinsky’s already double-voiced (Bakhtin & Holquist, 1981) music and drama through the additional intermedial modes of Japanese theatre, Hollywood cinema and surrealist computer animation. Exploring these additional semiotic layers and their effect on the listener-viewer requires detailed analysis of the inter- and multi-media tools at play, their sign-function significations (Eco, 2000; Monelle, 2000) and resulting hermeneutic and pragmatic consequences (Tarasti, 1995).
Taymour’s Oedipus adds masks, puppets, dancing doubles and filmic effects to fuse Cocteau and Stravinsky’s twentieth-century, Parisian neoclassic modernism with the ancient classical cultures of Japan, Greece and Russia. Film camera close-ups both contest and complement Stravinsky's amphitheatre-inspired statuesque presentation, as does the Bunraku , Kabuki and Noh inspired theatrical presentation amid Stravinsky’s ‘salad of clichés’ (Taruskin, 2003b) plundered from the museum of western opera/oratorio (Bernstein, 1976).
To extend Van den Toorn’s original question, this paper considers whether Stravinsky will survive postmodern production and to what extent such new intermediality enhances 'his' music and our perception of it.
|Keywords||Musicology; semiotics; cognitive sciences; music theory|
|Book title||Making Sense of Music: Studies in Musical Semiotics|
|Publisher||Leuven University Press|
|Place of publication||Leuven|
|25 Jan 2018|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||20 Mar 2018|
|Accepted||16 Feb 2016|
0views this month
0downloads this month