George K. Haggett

Degrees BA Music (St Hugh's College, Oxford); MMus Musicology (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Course DPhil Music
College Magdalen College
Address Magdalen College, High Street, OX1 4AU

Contemporary opera, medievalism, post-tonal analysis, voice, gender, queer theory, theologies and phenomenologies of embodiment.

In Medievalism in Contemporary Opera, I approach a handful of the dozens of operas written between 1985 and the present day that in some way stage medieval influences. Supervised by Laura Tunbridge and advised in medieval culture by Elizabeth Eva Leach, I will discuss operatic representations of knights (Harrison Birtwistle’s Gawain [1991], Julian Philips’s The Tale of Januarie [2017]), troubadours (George Benjamin’s Written on Skin [2012], Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin [2000]), and saints (Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise [1983], Robert Saxton’s Caritas [1991]).

While medievalism is hugely influential in contemporary culture write large–from Game of Thrones to theme park rides, high-church liturgies to alt-right crusading rhetoric–I investigate the distinctive ways in which opera composers resurrect the Middle Ages, and ask why. I will then turn that question back on itself by asking what insights medieval thought itself can offer into the study of opera. In opera’s intense music-dramaturgy, medieval ideas of voice, body, and desire can be staged both richly and disturbingly, By embracing worldviews that predate modernity’s dualisms, this project will explore deep kinships between pre- and postmodern ideas and their implications for contemporary operatic practice.

AHRC Open-Oxford-Cambridge Partnership