Alice Coote on gender via trouser roles

ffwHere‘s a very insightful look into gender via opera from mezzo Alice Coote. I’ll leave you with two quotes from the article:

Some directors find it preferable not to even try to create the illusion of maleness, and want me to play a transparently “female” male, a choice which actually throws up many more nuanced and interesting questions than those faced by a female actor playing as close to a male as is possible.

This reminds me of biopics and actors doing a very pedantic impression of some historical figure vs. films that re-imagine reality and go into the spirit of the character rather than their concrete being. Depends on what you’re exploring, the person or the character.

More crucially when I am alone and not relating to men or women, do I define myself as female or as a rather more neutral being? Just because I have a female body is that the largest part of my identity?

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About dehggial

opera lover with a predilection for Mozart and Baroque

Posted on May 23, 2015, in acting in opera, freeform weekend, mezzos & contraltos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. This was such a wonderful article; I read it a few days back and thought of you, because we’d been talking about en travesti roles. Good for Coote for writing such a sensitive, nuanced and smart article. Her recital sounds fab too.

    As you know, I’m one of those boring people who gets all annoyed and starts sulking that so-and-so looks like a woman in certain productions, so perhaps I’m just guilty of missing all the psychological subteties. Sighs Oh well. I’m just waiting for the follow-up now where they talk to guys who play girls 😉

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    • I don’t know that I’d call you boring for that. Coote too says that she’s looking to at least “act” like a chap if not look like one, though obviously in enough productions you can see that efforts have been put into that as well. There are different angles that can be explored.

      But I also think expectations come into play here. Like I was saying in the other post, straight women, straight men, gay women and gay men all have slightly different expectations from en travesti roles. But it’s not even just that: I think expectations extend to even seeing certain performers in certain roles. For instance I’m very used to seeing Alice Coote in trouser roles. Having missed Hercules I don’t think I’ve seen her in a girl role and the thought of it is frankly a bit weird though I know she’s a straight woman so playing a “girly” girl should be easy peasy. But is it?

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  2. I’m very used to Coote in trouser roles as well, enough that her doing “girly” seems odd to me too. The selections from Hercules on her Handel CD made me wish I could see her perform her role in that live, though.

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  3. Regie, or Not Regie?

    Late to the party as usual. Thanks for sharing this fascinating article. It’s always interesting to get a take on what the singers are thinking. Also interesting to think about “type-casting” –mezzos we only think of as boys…

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