I am Assistant Professor of Music at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. My work lies at the intersection of musicology, philosophy, and literary theory. My first book, Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater (forthcoming in October from Indiana University Press) explores how operas and musicals tell stories in comparison with other media. My next project concerns the nature of authorship in the collaborative musical arts. This project’s current focus is on recuperating the contributions of Myfanwy Piper, one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and artistically successful librettists. The next phase enlarges its scope to include more popular forms of musical theatre. I also have research and teaching interests in 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.