Voice of Judith in 300 Years of Oratorio and Opera
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Paperback / softback
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of Pages: 280
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
This volume focuses on the story of Judith as presented by composers, librettists and playwrights over four centuries. Helen Leneman analyzes numerous examples of music, librettos and the librettists' views of Judith – strongly influenced by societal attitudes of their time – and how these works in turn suggest unexpected ways of understanding biblical women and their stories. Music adds nuances, colors and emotions, becoming a subtext that suggests character and emotions. Leneman presents in-depth analyses of the librettos and music of 16 operas and oratorios based on the book of Judith that span 300 years (1694-1984), in addition to two influential plays that inspired several librettos in the nineteenth century. Exploring works by such varied composers as Vivaldi, Mozart, Parry, Honegger, Serov, Chadwick and von Reznicek, Leneman reveals the ways in which each adaptation expands, distils or reinterprets Judith’s character and story. In this first ever extensive study of musical settings of the Book of Judith, Leneman enables the biblical heroine to transcend her source.
As the field of biblical scholarship rapidly changes and expands, Helen Leneman's contribution to musical reception of biblical characters is immense. As her previous books on Ruth, Moses, Saul and David, and various characters from the book of Genesis demonstrate, Leneman's work has developed an important method in order to tackle musical readings of biblical books. Her latest book, The Voice of Judith in 300 Years of Oratorio and Opera, shows how music makes the characters come to life in a way that the text doesn't - they are given voices (e.g. Judith's maid) and complex emotional and psychological developments. Leneman's book plunges us into the multi-vocal universe of the characters from the book of Judith, unveiling through her comprehensive analysis of the music, librettos and vocal ranges a whole gamut of emotions. * The Revd Dr Ann Jeffers (Senior Fellow, HEA) Roehampton University, UK * Dr. Helen Leneman is unique: she is a Bible scholar, steeped in Jewish and general Bible knowledge, with a deep love for music and musical training; she's even a cantor! In her previous books on the Hebrew Bible - on Ruth (2007), Saul and David (2010), Moses (2014), and Genesis (2019) - she shows us how music and libretto, in oratorio and opera, supply interpretations for biblical stories that may form a Midrash, similar or different from ancient Jewish Midrash, and may mesh with contemporaneous Bible exegesis. A hallmark of her work is the attention to female figures, often missing in past and present scholarship. In the present volume, The Voice of Judith in 300 Hundred Years of Oratorio and Opera, Leneman shows us once again how musicians interpreted the story of Judith over centuries, adapting the story to their own work and their time/location needs. As such, this is a huge contribution to the Bible's reception history, often neglected. A must read for students of Bible - and of music. * Athalya Brenner-Idan (Emerita), Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands *