UC Berkeley News



07 April 2004

Music and Gesture in Nineteenth-Century Opera
By Mary Ann Smart

Mary Ann Smart, associate professor of music, took her inspiration for Mimomania from a line Nietzsche penned about composer Richard Wagner. Though when the German philosopher described his fellow countryman as “the most enthusiastic mimomaniac” ever, he intended it as a slight, Smart was inspired by the reference to re-examine how the music of Wagner and other 19th-century composers (Auber, Bellini, Meyerbeer, and Verdi) subtly underscored and intensified their characters’ emotions and physical gestures.

Using rich musical detail, Smart has written a book that “yields a dazzling array of exciting insights,” says Emanuelle Senici, University of Oxford, which will interest “not only musicologists but also cultural historians, theater historians, feminist theorists, and anybody interested in the study of performance.”

University of California Press, 2004; 247 pages

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