Little Books: Contemporary Poetry and Opera Restricted; Files Only

Hofmann, Richard Joseph (Spring 2018)

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“Little Books: Contemporary Poetry and Opera” explores affinities between opera and English and American lyric poetry from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Of principal interest are the way these art forms order and express time, dramatize and enact recursiveness, and invite return and reinterpretation. Both opera and lyric play with elements that are endlessly adaptable and repeatable, upending our sense of chronology, even as art forms with strong senses of their histories. The dissertation considers poems and libretti by W. H. Auden, James Merrill, Louise Glück, Frank Bidart, J. D. McClatchy, and Alice Goodman, alongside operas by Wagner, Strauss, Puccini, Britten, Stravinsky, and John Adams. Drawing on an analysis of poems and performance texts, theory from the worlds of opera studies and lyric poetry studies, and the wealth of information supplied, in verse and in prose, by the poets and composers themselves, I examine the network of relations between music and poetry, performance and reading, the sung voice and imagined voice of the lyric poem, and among practitioners of different art forms—musicians, writers, composers, and singers.

Table of Contents


Little Books


Chapter 1

Auden the Lyricist


Chapter 2

James Merrill's Operatic Revivals


Chapter 3 

Airless Edifice: Opera and Autobiography


Chapter 4

Something Will Remain: Alice Goodman's Libretti


Works Cited

About this Dissertation

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