My work lies at the intersection of musicology, philosophy, and literary theory. My first book, Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater (forthcoming in fall of this year from Indiana University Press) explores how operas and musicals tell stories in comparison with other media. My next book project concerns the nature of authorship and collaboration in the musical theatre. So far, this work has focused on Myfanwy Piper, a mid-twentieth-century British librettist, most famous for her work with Benjamin Britten. I also have research and teaching interests in the American musical and film music.
Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater is the first systematic exploration of how sung forms of drama tell stories. Through examples from opera's origins to contemporary musicals, I examine the roles of character-narrators and how they differ from those in literary and cinematic works, how music can orient spectators to characters' points of view, how being privy to characters' inner thoughts and feelings may evoke feelings of sympathy or empathy, and how performers' choices affect not only who is telling the story but what story is being told. Unique about my approach is my engagement with current work in analytic philosophy. I reveal not only the resources this philosophical tradition can bring to musicology but those which musicology can bring to philosophy, challenging and refining accounts of narrative, point of view, and the work-performance relationship within both disciplines. I also consider practical problems singers and directors confront on a daily basis, such as what to do about Wagner's Jewish caricatures and the racism of Orientalist operas. More generally, I reflect on how centuries-old works remain meaningful to contemporary audiences and have the power to attract new, more diverse audiences to opera and musical theater. By exploring how practitioners past and present have addressed these issues, I offer suggestions for how opera and musical theater can continue to entertain and enrich the lives of 21st century audiences.