Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Music

Supervisor(s)

Dr. David Myska

Abstract

A Modest Proposal is a chamber opera in one act adapted from the 1729 satirical essay of the same name by Jonathan Swift. The opera’s narrative was developed in close partnership with Toronto-based Governor-General’s Literary Award-nominated playwright Lisa Codrington, whom I commissioned to write the libretto. Set in an unnamed city in the present day, the work explores themes of economic disparity, social class, political power and process, parents and children, love, anger, and revenge. I integrate musical quotations from (or references to) folk lullabies and the works of Mahler, Debussy, and Schoenberg to support and enhance the richness and complexity of the opera’s intertextual meaning. A Modest Proposal is approximately 45 minutes in duration and is scored for three principal voices with a flexible supporting cast of eight voices (or as few as four, if multiple roles are performed), accompanied by an instrumental sextet comprised of a bass clarinet (doubling clarinet), horn, violin, violoncello, piano, and percussion.


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