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«  MODELING HEROINES FROM GIACAMO PUCCINI’S OPERAS by Shinobu Yoshida A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»

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Shinobu Yoshida

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

(Music: Musicology)

in The University of Michigan

Doctoral Committee:

Associate Professor Naomi A. André, Co-Chair

Associate Professor Jason Duane Geary, Co-Chair

Associate Professor Mark Allan Clague

Assistant Professor Victor Román Mendoza © Shinobu Yoshida All rights reserved
























APPENDICES………………………………………………………………………….162 BIBLIOGRAPHY



Figure I-1 The “Puccini Heroine”

  Figure I-2 Model of Character Types

  Figure II-1 La bohème Division of Acts

  Figure II-2: Mimì’s Leitmotive

  Figure II-3: Table of Sections in “Mi chiamano”

  Figure II-4: A Child’s Theme R14 - 5

  Figure II-5: Mimì’s Leitmotive Played by the Violin, R 26

  Figure II-6: Theme from “Mi chiamano” Episode B, R 28+4 to 5

  Figure II-7 “Addio, senza rancor” R 27–2 to 4

  Figure II-8 “Addio, senza rancor” R 28+11 to 16

  Figure III-1 “Mu-li-hua”

  Figure III-2 Five-Note Motive

  Figure III-3 Bitonal Chords

  Figure III-4 (Ricordi, full score p.72, R23+5 to 13)

  Figure III-5

  Figure III-6 Melody in the Second Half of “In questa reggia”

  Figure III-7

  Figure III-8

  Figure III-9

  Figure III-10

  Figure IV-1 R19+2 to 16


–  –  –


Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) lived during a period in which many changes were being made by and for women in western European culture. The heroines represented in Puccini’s operas often reflect the kinds of women—idealized woman, femme fatale, and the New Woman—constructed in publications and discourses during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This dissertation considers Puccini’s heroines and typology of female representations in light of contemporary cultural movements of realism and exoticism as well as social and political developments by and for women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The characters analyzed are Mimì from La bohème (1896), Minnie from La fanciulla del West (1910), and Turandot (1926). Any female character from Puccini’s operas, who has at least one aria, could have been selected and would have been suitable to work within the framework that is established here. However, these abovementioned three exhibit many traits of the types of female representations that existed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, contemporaneous to the time when the operas were composed, and thus, can serve as examples for future projects.

Scholarship on the operas of Puccini has focused on one type of female character, the so-called “Puccini heroine.” This female protagonist is said to be weak, fragile, selfsacrificing, and usually dies tragically.1 This concept of the female character has not been challenged critically and has been accepted into the popular media. For example, in the program notes for the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the 2006–07 season, the writer Roger Pines explains that Liù “is the last of the typical ‘Puccini girls’: sweetly tender-hearted like Mimì, selfless like Minnie, self-sacrificing like Butterfly.”2 Yet the “Puccini heroine” does not fully encompass the range of female characters in Puccini’s operas. Puccini’s female protagonists include characters who clearly do not fit into this category, such as Turandot, who is a murderer. To avoid marriage and dominance by a man, she kills suitors who fail to pass her challenge of answering three very difficult riddles. Another protagonist who kills men is Tosca. Not only does she kill the deceptive and manipulative Scarpia with her bare hands, but she inadvertently betrays her lover, precipitating his execution. Minnie from La fanciulla del West, on the other hand, does not kill anyone but threatens to do so. Moreover, she does not typify the “Puccini heroine” insofar as she is independent, both financially and personally. She even carries a pistol and has authority over the men around her.

The dominance of the “Puccini heroine” in musicological literature distorts our understanding of Puccini’s operas and, in turn, our view of Puccini as a composer. I identify three distinct character types in Puccini’s operas: the Sentimental Heroine, the Femme Fatale, and the New Woman. These groupings are based on female typologies See Sandra Corse, "'Mi chiamano Mimì': The Role of Women in Puccini's Operas,"

Opera Quarterly 1, no. 1 (Spring 1983); Claire Detels, "Puccini's 'Decent to the Goddess':

Feminine Archetypal Motifs from Manon Lescaut to Turandot," in A Yearbook in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Fine Arts (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990);

William Weaver, "Puccini's Manon and His Other Heroines," in The Puccini Companion, ed. William Weaver and Simonetta Puccini (New York: Norton, 1994).

Roger Pines, "A Taste for the Exotic: Puccini and Turandot," Lyric Opera 2006, 27.

historically represented during Puccini’s lifetime. Moreover, Puccini’s heroines are dynamic and multifaceted and often cannot be fully encapsulated by a single category.

Rather than uphold a limiting and false typology, I introduce a different method that accommodates the inclusion of all Puccini’s heroines to analyze and understand them more fully.3 This analytical process will help revise our understanding of Puccini as a composer of limited skills in creating female characters, show the stereotypical representation of women in the nineteenth century, and help modern singers and interpreters of Puccini’s operas to have a fuller perspective on these heroines.

Musicology, Feminist Theory, and Puccini Studies Since the appearance of musicological studies influenced by developments in feminist theory, such as Catherine Clément’s Opera, the Undoing of Women (1979, English translation, 1988) and Susan McClary’s Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (1991), many musicologists have reconsidered how women, including female characters, are represented in opera.4 There is a wide range of lenses through which women are analyzed and interpreted in opera and opera scholarship. Scholars most often use elements such as the body and voice as the focus of their studies, while several other I have limited the female protagonists to those who have at least one aria in the operas.

Thus, I excluded Suzuki from Madama Butterfly, most female characters from Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica, and Lisette from La rondine.

Catherine Clément, Opera, or The Undoing of Women (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988); Susan McClary, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002); Elizabeth Hudson, "Gilda Seduced: A Tale Untold," Cambridge Opera Journal 4, no. 3 (1992); Ralph P. Locke, "What Are These Women Doing in Opera?," in En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera, ed. Corinne E. Blackmer and Paticia Juliana Smith (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995); Mary Ann Smart, "Verdi Sings Erminia Frezzolini," Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, no. 1 (1997).

writers have explored the issue of cross-dressing.5 Others, such as Carolyn Abbate in Unsung Voice (1991) and more recently Naomi André in Gendered Voices (2006), have thought deeply about voice on many different levels.6 With heroines such as Lucia di Lammermoor, characterized by psychological trauma, several scholars have examined mental health. One example is Mary Anne Smart, who has written about Lucia di Lammermoor’s psychological abnormality in her aria after she has killed her bridegroom.7 Representing Women in Puccini’s Operas Although the discipline of musicology has accepted and incorporated feminist theory, scholars studying Puccini seem to be more reticent to include feminism in their research.

Many of the recent monographs and articles on Puccini and his works have focused not on the feminist perspective but on the historical and cultural age during which the composer lived and worked. Indeed, some scholars have expressed an explicit version to analyzing opera through a feminist lens. For example, William Ashbrook and Harold Powers state in the introduction of their book Puccini’s Turandot: The End of the Great


Corinne E. Blackmer and Patricia Juliana Smith, eds., En travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995); Susan C. Cook and Judy S. Tsou, eds., Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994 ).

Carolyn Abbate, Unsung Voices: Opera and Musical Narrative in tthe Nineteenth

Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991); Naomi André, Voicing Gender:

Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Womn in Early-Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006); Mary Ann Smart, "The Lost Voice of Rosine Stolz," Cambridge Opera Journal 6, no. 1 (1994).

Mary Ann Smart, "The Silencing of Lucia," Cambridge Opera Journal 4, no. 2 (1992).

That Puccini’s Turandot—more than any of his other works—could play as relevant a role in feminist criticism as it could in social criticism is as obvious as it is irrelevant to our more limited concern with Puccini’s use of such voices and such situations for musical ends. Our concern is not with Turandot as one among a number of socio-historical reflections of a phase or an aspect of Western culture, but simply as a work worthy of consideration in its own terms, as the last Monument in the last Golden Century of one of the world’s Great Traditions of musical theater.8 That Ashbrook and Powers assert that it is possible to discuss Turandot independent of socio-historical considerations is telling, as if an opera, or music in general, can be seriously discussed apart from the historical context out of which it arose. Turandot cannot be considered to be the last opera in the Great Tradition if this Great Tradition itself is not understood in the context of historical considerations.

Others do not explicitly eschew feminist perspective, but they pursue other questions, allowing their work to speak for itself in the lack of it. In Deborah Burton’s edited collection of essays by various writers, Tosca’s Prism (2004), the articles mainly focus on the historical details regarding the period in which the opera was written and based.9 Although feminist movements and women’s issues were part of history, they are absent in these chapters. The chapter that comes closest in touching feminist discussion is the last one, “Who Is Tosca?: A Discussion among Modern Interpreters; Moderated by William Weaver, with Magda Olivero, Giuseppe di Stefano, Luigi Squarzina, and Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, 17 June 2000.” Because it is “a conversation [rather] than a series of formal presentations” (that is, serious scholarship), it suggests that the informal setting lacks the deeper discussion that a formal William Ashbrook and Harold Powers, Puccini's Turandot: The End of the Great Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991 ), 11.

Deborah Burton, Susan Vandiver Nicassio, and Agostino Ziino, eds., Tosca's Prism:

Three Moments of Western Cultural History (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004).

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