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Gestures of Music TheaterThe Performativity of Song and Dance$
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Dominic Symonds and Millie Taylor

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199997152

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199997152.001.0001

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The (Un)Pleasure of Song

The (Un)Pleasure of Song

(p.22) Chapter 2 The (Un)Pleasure of Song
Gestures of Music Theater

Carlo Zuccarini

Oxford University Press

This exploration of the operatic reception experience leverages the individual strengths of psychoanalysis and neuroscience, applying them jointly at the interdisciplinary nexus of neuropsychoanalysis. Drawing on the theories of Freud, Lacan and Winnicott, as well as the findings of current neuroscientific research on music reception, the intense emotional response of some operaphiles can be understood in both subjective and objective terms. Even though the reception of all music involves the same neural processes, opera is capable of harnessing specific subjective dynamics in the operaphile. The transcendent experience of opera, which features the “painful enjoyment” of jouissance, is mediated by the characteristic “excess songness” of its performativity. This operates within a space of illusion that provides a transitional experience with an enduring maternal presence, allowing the operaphile to (re)encounter the lost vocal object of the preverbal infant.

Keywords:   opera, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, neuropsychoanalysis, vocal object, jouissance, transitional experience

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