Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Frehner, Paul


The Maker is an electro-acoustic and multi-media opera in two acts that seeks to expand upon the use of pre-recorded audio and video in the operatic genre as well as explores musical representations of classical Greek dramatic elements in the context of a re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Based on a libretto by Dr. Monika Lee, The Maker utilizes a harmonic system focused on managing common-tones to reinforce and augment dramatic tension. Additionally, The Maker uses concepts from classical Greek tragedies as the foundation of musical materials. In particular, it explores how the use of recurring musical motifs can be tied to narrative devices, such as the concept of hamartia, which in turn can be used to reinforce the opera’s narrative.

The Maker also explores the relationship between diegetic and non-diegetic narrative elements and how this relationship can be accentuated through the use of pre-recorded video and audio. A non-diegetic Greek chorus is placed in contrast to the main cast by being presented to the audience via pre-recorded video and audio. Additionally, pre-recorded soundtrack parts help to blur the line between acoustic and electronic, reflecting the ambiguous humanity of some of the opera’s primary characters.

Summary for Lay Audience

The Maker is an opera in two acts that utilizes pre-recorded audio and video in addition to the live, on-stage performers. The inclusion of pre-recorded audio/video into opera is relatively new and evolving idea that The Maker seeks to continue developing while also presenting a re- imagined version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The Maker is based on a libretto written by Dr. Monika Lee, and uses concepts from classical Greek tragedies as a foundation of some of its musical material. In particular, it uses recurring musical ideas to represent specific narrative devices.

The Maker also explores how pre-recorded video and audio can be used to accentuate the differences between events that are and are not real in the context of the on-stage narrative. A surreal chorus, derived from the classical Greek chorus, is presented via pre-recorded video to place it in contrast to the real events on stage. Additional pre-recorded audio parts are used throughout the opera to further blur the line between acoustic and electronic sounds, which seeks to reflect the ambiguous humanity of some of the plot’s characters.

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Composition Commons