|February 23, 2019|
|The Metropolitan Opera Guild|
Femmes fatales appear across centuries of art, literature, film, folklore, and works for the stage. What happens when these powerful, seductive, and dangerous characters collide with the expressive potential of the operatic medium? In our winter session of Opera Boot Camp, lecturer Naomi Barrettara combines forces with journalist, author, and chief copywriter for the Goldstein Group Stephanie Pierson to explore this season’s greatest femme fatale characters and discuss the endlessly fascinating interpretive questions that come to the fore as singers and directors bring these characters to life.
Part 1: Introduction to the Femme Fatale across Opera History What does the term “femme fatale” mean? From where does the archetype originate, and how has it changed over time? What are some of the most important cultural trends that have influenced the femme fatale persona in major operas of the season? This first session will explore all of these questions as a launching point for our discussion of femmes fatales across the operatic repertoire.
Part 2: Character Study—Dalila and Carmen Bizet’s Carmen and Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila give us two of the most powerful femme fatale characters in the repertoire. Carmen is often referred to as the quintessential femme fatale: living and loving on her own terms. Dalila is intent on using her seductive powers to break Samson from the moment that the curtain rises. This second session will explore the visual, musical, and interpretive elements of bringing these two powerhouses to life on the opera stage.
Part 3: Character Study—Marnie and the Queen of the Night Nico Muhly said in an interview that the title character of Marnie reminded him of Debussy’s Mélisande: “a woman who is both hunter and hunted.” In Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, the Queen of the Night is both hunter and hunted in a different way. Blurred lines between good, evil, truth, and power permeate both works, but do these characters fit the classic mold of the femme fatale? Join us as we explore all this and more in the third session.
Part 4: Character Study—Leïla and Mélisande Debussy’s Mélisande is an irresistible mystery to Golaud, who becomes dangerously suspicious of the bond she seems to share with his half-brother, Pelléas. In Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, priestess Leïla has vowed never to be with a man, yet she is the object of both Nadir and Zurga’s desire. Are these two idolized women femmes fatales simply because of their irresistible allure? Our final session concludes with an exploration of these two fascinating French heroines.