My work lies at the intersection of musicology, philosophy, and literary theory. My first book, Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater (forthcoming 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 now in production at Indiana University Press and is scheduled to be released in fall 2020. This book offers the first systematic exploration of how sung forms of drama tell stories. Drawing on examples from Monteverdi to contemporary musicals, I define several common types of character-narrators and discuss the ways in which they differ from the kinds of narrators audiences encounter in literary and cinematic works. I explore the various roles the orchestra plays, such as providing narrator-like commentary and access to characters’ unexpressed thoughts and feelings.
Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater also presents the first sustained meditation on how performers’ choices affect the point of view from which an opera is told. I 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 theatre. By exploring how practitioners past and present have addressed these issues, I offer suggestions for how opera and musical theatre can continue to entertain and enrich the lives of audiences in the twenty-first century.