Miren de Miguel, established soprano within the Italian and Spanish opera circuit, has developed this solo performance piece in order to critique the roles of women within the canon of 19th century composer Guiseppe Verdi. She shares a range of arias with us, as well as established female characters such as Carmen, Violeta and Desdemona. The winding narrative of the feminist analysis is at times hard to follow; projected surtitles can divide non-Italian speaking spectators’ attention, and the translation left some of the argument indistinct. Nevertheless, Miguel’s performance explores the fates of women throughout Verdi, and how the failings of the male characters are taken on and writ upon the female bodies; in despair, violence, and suicide.
At times the purpose of the piece may feel ahistorical, or approached from too conservative a feminist standpoint – what is the value in mining pre-20th century classical tropes for their inevitable misogyny? How can that analysis be brought into relation with contemporary feminism, and the treatment of women and women’s bodies in modern performance, particularly the strenuous and elitist field of opera? Yet Tutte Contro Verdi still embodies its own feminist intentions, however blurry their elucidation: in creating her own solo piece, and framing Verdi’s arias in her own criticism, she has removed the ‘woman’ in opera from its debilitating attachment to the male.
TUTTE CONTRO VERDI, Isifuera S.L. & Miren de Miguel, until Aug 17th, New Town Theatre. This venue is not wheelchair accessible. Please contact venue for further accessibility details. (HM)
More on Tutte Contro Verdi: http://tuttecontroverdi.com/en/
Opinion in Edinburgh Feminist Review
Natasha Walter on ‘Wagner’s Women’, feminism themes in the Ring Cycle
See our Diagnosis of Monica Salvi’s Mad Women In My Attic!, which analyses gender roles in musical theatre
2013 segment in BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour on Verdi’s heroines