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Holding Hands Verdi, ‘Tu che le vanità’ (Elisabetta), Don Carlo, Act IV

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2016


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© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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Davinia Caddy, University of Auckland;


1 Sellars staged Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in and around the swimming pool of Adams House, Harvard University, in 1978.

2 A summary account is offered by Albright, Daniel in his ‘Golden Calves: The Role of Dance in Opera’, The Opera Quarterly 22 (2006), 2237 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Gombrich, Ernst, The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (1979; rev. edn London, 2012)Google Scholar.

4 Janet Wolff acknowledges the long-standing ideal of the two-dimensional dancing body in her essay ‘Reinstating Corporeality: Feminism and Body Politics’, in Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance, ed. Jane C. Desmond (Durham, NC, 1997), 95.

5 As Joseph Masheck has explained, the planarity and crafted surface of patterned textiles had a decisive influence on the development of the visuals arts – and the field of art criticism – in the twentieth century; see his aptly titled The Carpet Paradigm: Integral Flatness from Decorative to Fine Art (1976; rpt New York, 2010).

6 Seminal texts include Clark, Maribeth, ‘The Body and the Voice in La Muette de Portici ’, 19th-Century Music 27 (2003), 116131 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Smart, Mary Ann, Mimomania: Music and Gesture in Nineteenth-Century Opera (Berkeley, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Albright, Daniel, Music Speaks: On the Language of Opera, Dance and Song (Rochester, NY, 2009)Google Scholar; Jordan, Stephanie, ‘Mark Morris Marks Purcell: Dido and Aeneas as Danced Opera’, Dance Research 29 (2011), 167213 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and a recent special edition of The Opera Quarterly 31/3 (Summer 2015). Wayne Heisler Jr’s work on lieder and dance is worth special mention for its imaginative interpretative commentaries; see, in particular, Heisler’s article ‘Anthony Tudor’s Dark Elegies and the Affirmation of Mahler’s Body, 1937–1947’, Dance Chronicle 36 (2013), 172–95; and his short essay ‘Dancing Lieder Singing’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 67 (2014), 560–5.

7 Maria Callas with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Nicola Rescigno (EMI, 1958). Callas never recorded the entire opera.

8 The film features Baehr and fellow performer-choreographer William Wheeler. I am grateful to Baehr for providing me with online access to the recording.

9 Verdi’s original Don Carlos (1867), of course, featured a ballet divertissement titled ‘La Pérégrina’ (after the infamous pearl); the ballet was cut for the 1884 version. For more on this and other Verdi ballets, see Porter, Andrew, ‘Verdi’s Ballet Music and “La Pérégrina”’, in Atti del Il congresso internazionale di studi verdiani Verona/Parma/Busseto 1969 (Parma, 1971), 355367 Google Scholar; Kahane, Martine, ‘La danza nelle versioni parigine delle opere di Verdi’, La danza italiana 1 (Autumn 1984), 4360 Google Scholar; Jürgensen, Knud Arne, The Verdi Ballets (Parma, 1995)Google Scholar; and Jürgenson, , ‘An Avenue Unexplored: The Divertissement and the Opéra-Ballet’, in Verdi in Performance, ed. Alison Latham and Roger Parker (Oxford, 2001), 9199 Google Scholar, with responses on 103–30.

10 See Baehr’s book Rire/Laugh/Lachen (Paris, 2008), especially the interview with Xavier Le Roy, 80–96. Holding Hands is the first part of a trilogy on the gestural expression of emotion; Baehr’s second piece is titled Un Après-midi, her third, Laugh.

11 The quotation can be found in the plot summary that accompanies the film online. See also the insightful account of the production by dance scholar Petra Sabisch in her book Choreographing Relations: Practical Philosophy and Contemporary Choreography (Munich, 2011), 189–208.

12 There is in fact a long tradition of silent modern dance, embracing Martha Graham’s Project in Movement for a Divine Comedy (1930), Jerome Robbins’s Moves (1959) and Mark Morris’s Behemoth (1990), to name a few. Baehr’s production, I shall argue, might be seen as fundamentally reflexive – that is, might comment creatively on the perceptual challenges (for both performers and spectators) issuing from silent choreographic theatre.

13 See Chion, Michel, The Voice in Cinema, trans. Claudia Gorbman (New York, 1999), 28 Google Scholar; and, for a nuanced critique, Wang, Yiman, Remaking Chinese Cinema: Through the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hollywood (Honolulu, 2013), 115120 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I borrow the phrase ‘present-as-absented’ from a recent article by theatre historian Schneider, Rebecca, ‘Gesture to Opera: Yinka Shonibare’s Un ballo in maschera ’, The Opera Quarterly 31 (2015), 155169 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 On similar reinventions of Wagner’s notorious Gesamtkunstwerk, see Smith, Matthew Wilson, The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace (London, 2007)Google Scholar; and Roberts, David, The Total Work of Art in European Modernism (New York, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Notable texts across a range of disciplines include Sontag, Susan, Against Interpretation and Other Essays (New York, 1966)Google Scholar; Jauss, Hans Robert, ‘The Limits and Tasks of Literary Hermeneutics’, Diogenus 17 (1980), 92119 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bordwell, David, Making Meaning: Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema (Cambridge, MA, 1989)Google Scholar; Vattimo, Gianni, Beyond Interpretation: The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy (Stanford, CA, 1997)Google Scholar; and Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Smith, James K.A. and Benson, Bruce Ellis, eds., Hermeneutics at the Crossroads (Indianapolis, 2006)Google Scholar. For a specifically musicological perspective, see Abbate, Carolyn, ‘Cipher and Performance in Sternberg’s Dishonored ’, in Music and the Aesthetics of Modernity, ed. Karol Berger and Anthony Newcomb (Cambridge, MA, 2005), 357392 Google Scholar.

16 See Esslin, Martin, The Theatre of the Absurd (1961; rpt London, 2009)Google Scholar.

17 Representative texts include Fraleigh, Sondra Horton, Dance and the Lived Body: A Descriptive Aesthetics (Pittsburgh, 1987)Google Scholar; Marks, Laura U., The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Durham, NC, 2000)Google Scholar; Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich, The Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey (Stanford, 2004)Google Scholar; Guin, Elisabeth Le, Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology (Berkeley, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Crowther, Paul, Phenomenology of the Visual Arts (Even the Frame) (Stanford, 2009)Google Scholar.

18 Gumbrecht and Pfeiffer, K. Ludwig, eds., Materialities of Communication, trans. William Whobrey (Stanford, 1994)Google Scholar.

19 See, for example, Sobshack, Vivian, ‘Toward a Phenomenology of Cinematic and Electronic Presence: The Scene of the Screen’, Post Script, 10 (1990), 5059 Google Scholar; Gumbrecht, and Marrinan, Michael, Mapping Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Digital Age (Stanford, 2003)Google Scholar; A Clark, ndy, Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence (Oxford, 2004)Google Scholar; and Hayles, N. Katherine, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics (Chicago, 2008)Google Scholar. On the disembodied voice, see Abbate, Carolyn, ‘Ventriloquism’, in Meaning in the Visual Arts: Views from the Outside, ed. Irving Lavin (Princeton, 1995), 305311 Google Scholar; Connor, Steven, Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Auner, Joseph, ‘“Sing It for Me”: Posthuman Ventriloquism in Recent Popular Music’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 128 (2003), 98122 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

20 A personal favourite is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York, 2009) by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges.