Opera and spirituality

Meyer-Dinkgräfe, Daniel (2011) Opera and spirituality. Performance and Spirituality, 2 (1). pp. 38-59. ISSN 2157-4049

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Opera and Spirituality
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Abstract

Research into opera audiences has taken up a predominance of emotion in opera lovers’ responses to opera, in particular, and music in general (including opera). For the field of music psychology, there has been increased interest in strong emotions in relation to music, physically manifested as, for example, chills, shivers down or up the spine, or an increase of the heart rate. Spiritual experiences feature among the range of strong emotions thus identified. It is on those that I focus in this article. Not only opera audiences report spiritual experiences: opera singers do so as well. Some contextual frameworks have been developed to explain such spiritual experiences, predominantly for audiences, but they are also relevant for singers. While the libretto is in many cases not likely to support the onset and development of spiritual experiences, some opera librettos might be argued to provide such support. In this article, I discuss spiritual experiences reported by singers and review the literature on spiritual experiences reported by audience members in relation to opera, proposing, along the way, relevant additions to the clarification of terminology for, and the explanation of, such experiences. Finally I add a section on the importance of mise-en-scène in relation to the potential of a libretto to induce and maintain spiritual experiences in opera.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Research into opera audiences has taken up a predominance of emotion in opera lovers’ responses to opera, in particular, and music in general (including opera). For the field of music psychology, there has been increased interest in strong emotions in relation to music, physically manifested as, for example, chills, shivers down or up the spine, or an increase of the heart rate. Spiritual experiences feature among the range of strong emotions thus identified. It is on those that I focus in this article. Not only opera audiences report spiritual experiences: opera singers do so as well. Some contextual frameworks have been developed to explain such spiritual experiences, predominantly for audiences, but they are also relevant for singers. While the libretto is in many cases not likely to support the onset and development of spiritual experiences, some opera librettos might be argued to provide such support. In this article, I discuss spiritual experiences reported by singers and review the literature on spiritual experiences reported by audience members in relation to opera, proposing, along the way, relevant additions to the clarification of terminology for, and the explanation of, such experiences. Finally I add a section on the importance of mise-en-scène in relation to the potential of a libretto to induce and maintain spiritual experiences in opera.
Keywords:opera, spirituality, consciousness studies, Meyer-Dinkgrafe, Peak experiences, Singing
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Performing Arts
ID Code:4245
Deposited By: Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe
Deposited On:19 Mar 2011 13:12
Last Modified:11 Sep 2013 16:18

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