"While I See You" : Transgressive Duality in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Monteverdi's L'Incordonazione Di Poppea




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Viola, the principal character of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, presents herself as a “eunuch” or castrato singer to pass as male after surviving a shipwreck. By doing so, she places herself in conversation with the operatic tradition of women in travesti (disguised or crossdressed) male roles, which developed from the popularity of the castrato singer. In this project, I illustrate that Viola represents a transgressive unity of contradictory selves by arranging both castrato and soprano pieces from Claudio Monteverdi’s early opera L’Incoronazione di Poppea as musical settings for three of Viola’s monologues. Further exploring the overlap between binaries, I revisit the doubling practices of early opera, such as Monteverdi’s work, which called for one virtuosic singer to play two or more contrasting roles, by digitally doubling my/Viola’s voice and body to create two-person scenes between her masculine and feminine aspects, representing her feminine onscreen and performing her masculine onstage alongside the filmed performance. This project, created from the liminal overlap of all these categories - live and digital, male and female, music and text, real and constructed - illustrates a cohesive whole that embraces the transgressive duality present within a single entity.



Shakespeare, William, -- 1564-1616. -- Twelfth night, Monteverdi, Claudio, -- 1567-1643. -- Incoronazione di Poppea, Viola (Fictitious character : Shakespeare), Mistaken identity, Opera -- 17th century, Gender expression