A study of female performance identity in Pre-Romantic Opera

Victoria Hodgkinson

In my work I intend to analyse industry trends and the differing perceptions, both historical and contemporary, that can influence the casting of female voices and bodies onstage today. I am interested in the intersection between sound, physicality and performance presence and hope to highlight the varied ways of perceiving and understanding female vocality. Although this project is concerned with historical context, my primary focus is with understanding future directions.

This study will involve re-examining and questioning current perceptions of historical singers, interviewing contemporary artists and analysing traditions of operatic criticism. Alongside this, my personal study and performance of operatic roles by composers such as Handel, will help me to cultivate an understanding of my research from the perspective of a young artist navigating educational, audition and performance spheres. This is crucial as it is my objective to provide further insight into methods of crafting identity in this genre of opera for young artists, such as myself, today. 

Image Credit: Alex Fine

My performance and vocal development are central to my research project. Therefore, a conservatoire environment such as The Royal Academy of Music is an ideal place to undertake my doctoral project. This is because I am able to collaborate with fellow musicians in performance and rehearsal settings, communicate with singers at varying stages of development and am afforded a platform where I can programme and present the repertoire I am exploring within my project. What excites me about an environment such as this, is that I have the opportunity to study repertoire not only theoretically but also through my own artistic practice.

The research process has helped me to approach my work as a singer in a more informed way. Through cultivating a deeper understanding of performance practice traditions, historical context, and contemporary perspectives, I feel I am developing a more holistic method of interpreting repertoire. Understanding how musical content references the world around us is intrinsic to my practice; therefore, I intend for my research to form the foundations for my professional choices as a singer and performer. 

Header Image Credit: Alex Fine

Further Links


If you would like to find out more about this project, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Victoria Hodgkinson

Briony Cox-Williams (Supervisor)