Staging the Repertoire as Postopera A narratological analysis of the staging of Madama Butterfly by Hotel Pro Forma (2017)

N.N.M. Nuijten 10440674 Master , Universiteit van Amsterdam July, 2017

Supervisor: R.A. Franzen MA

Table of contents

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………….5 theoretical framework and method 8 introduction case study 10

Part 1. …………………………………………………………………………………………. 12 1.1 …………………………………………………………………………………………12 1.1.1 different manners of speaking 12 1.1.2 narratology in the twentieth century 15 1.1.3 narrative levels 18 1.1.4 focalization 20

1.2 narratology in ……………………………………………………………………………… 22 1.2.1 of sound and music 24 1.2.2 different types of song 25

1.3 ambi-diegesis……………………………………………………………………………………...28

1.4 narratology in opera: dramatic, , dialectic? ………………………………………. 30 1.4.1 Wagner 32 1.4.2 Brecht 36

1.5 concluding Part 1…………………………………………………………………………………38

Part 2. Madama Butterfly……………………………………………………………………………... 41 2.1 story and origin………………………………………………………………………………….. 41 2.1.1 the libretto 43

2.2 narrative in the libretto and music of Madama Butterfly…………………………… 44

2.3 staging……………………………………………………………………………………………… 47 2.3.1 diegetic levels in Madama Butterfly 48

3 Silent scene 50 Fontana scene 51 2.3.2 ambiguous focalization in Madama Butterfly 52 2.3.3 music and the voice in Madama Butterfly 53

2.4 ambi-diegesis in Madama Butterfly……………………………………………………….. 55

2.5 Madama Butterfly: dramatic, epic, dialectic? ……………………………………………58

Part 3. Postopera………………………………………………………………………………………… 60 3.1 the postdramatic………………………………………………………………………………… 61

3.2 the postmodern…………………………………………………………………………………. 62

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………… 65

Bibliography.…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 69 List of other sources 72

4 Introduction In the 2017 staging of Madama Butterfly at La Monnaie / De Munt in Brussels1, it is not just Puccini’s quintessential piece that we see re-staged. In this staging it is not the music, that haunting overture, that starts the performance. It is a woman walking slowly and silently to a small podium on the front of the stage, who in turn starts the music by stepping onto this confining square, where she will remain for the rest of the performance. It is she who tells the story; it is through her eyes that the sees Puccini’s opera, taking place on the stage behind her. She is Madama Butterfly, or rather her ghost, coming back after dead for more than a hundred years, to tell us her story. The Danish director Kirsten Dehlholm, together with her collective Hotel Pro Forma, has made no cuts or adaptations to Puccini’s opera; it is left intact. However, the piece is in this case not staged as an ‘autonomous’ performance, but serves as a portrayal of the memory of the deceased Butterfly, the storyteller. It is not Puccini’s story that we see, it is Butterfly’s story, herself being present as a narrator. This staging altered the way the story is conveyed. Because of this, the whole piece transforms on multiple levels. It effects the time and space, the characters, the emotions it arouses and the way it is conceived by the audience. Hotel Pro Forma created a new performance around the original opera. By adding a narrator, the storyteller, another layer is built around the original narrative. Interestingly in this new layer of narrative the story is not communicated with words, but with actions. It is a visual, performative narrative, built around the original, textual and musical narrative. These two are represented within the storyteller, who sings Puccini’s original melodies but acts out a performance conceived of by Hotel Pro Forma. She is isolated from her memory – the original opera – in time and space, but at the same time present in it because of her voice. On the stage behind her we see a puppet – mastered by three puppeteers – carrying out Butterfly’s actions in the original opera. The storyteller seems to be ‘in between’ of everything; in between the stage and the audience, in between the past and the present. Her voice exists in her memory, but her actions exist in the present. She is inside as well as outside of the opera. In this thesis I will investigate her ambiguous position as a narrator and how this influences the narrative structures of the performance. Matters of narrative belong to the realm of narratology. This field of study is concerned with questions of who is telling a story; of different ways of telling a story; of different layers in telling a story. Originally narratology is concerned with , but it

1 Premiered 2 February 2017 at Muntpaleis / Palais de la Monnaie in Brussels. See: https://www.lamonnaie.be/fr/static-pages/394-madama-butterfly.

5 has been applied to other fields of study such as film and .2 In opera studies, narratology has mainly been adopted from a musicologist point of view.3 This point of view is mostly concerned with distinguishing different levels in the music of an opera; with how the music tells the story. In this thesis I will aim to take a broader look by investigating and combining a variety of narratological theories to come to terms with the different narrative layers in this particular staging of Madama Butterfly. Although touching upon different fields of study – opera, musicology, narratology, literature and film – the main objective of this thesis is dramaturgical. In simple terms, because it is not only concerned with questions of ‘how’ but also of ‘why.’ I will elaborate on this statement shortly. As many scholars have pointed out, it is difficult to define what dramaturgy is.4 I want to highlight one view that generally informs the position of dramaturgy in this thesis. In their text what is dramaturgy? theatre scholars Cathy Turner and Synne K. Behrndt quote Adam Versényi who defines dramaturgy as “the architecture of the theatrical event, involved in the confluence of components in a work and how they are constructed to generate meaning for the audience.”5 Following this dramaturgical principle I will not merely investigate how Hotel Pro Forma built their ‘theatrical event’ but also how it is ‘constructed to generate meaning’. After analysing this staging of Madama Butterfly I will take the discussion to another level. I argue that because of the narrative strategies and their dramaturgical consequences, this staging is not a conventional one. It does not merely out the ‘dramatic universe’ prescribed by the libretto and music, but rather uses this material and complements it with another, newly created performance – that of the storyteller – while leaving the original opera intact. Because there are now two ‘universes’ – the universe of the original opera, and the universe of the storyteller – there is a possibility for critique and reflection, not only on this specific opera but also when considering opera as an art form on a broader level. This connects to the concept of postopera, which recently found its way into opera studies but has not widely been explored. Jelena Novak coins the term in 2012 in her dissertation on the voice and the body, reflecting upon earlier mentioning of ‘post-opera’ by Jeremy

2 For example, in film: Souriau, Etienne. “La structure de l’univers filmique et le vocabulaire de la filmologie”. Revue internationale de filmologie 7-8, 1951. In theatre: Vanhaesebrouck, Karel. “Towards a Theatrical Narratology?” Image & Narrative 9, 2004. 3 For example: Abbate, Carolyn. Unsung Voices. Opera and musical narrative in the nineteenth century. Princeton University Press, 1991. ; Strykowski, Derek R. "The Diegetic Music of Berg’s Lulu: When Opera and Serialism Collide." Journal of Musicological Research 35.1, 2016. 4 Turner, Cathy, Synne K. Behrndt. Dramaturgy and Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, 17-19. 5 Versényi in Turner & Behrndt 2008, 18.

6 Tambling and the notion of the ‘post-operatic’ coined by Nicholas Till and Kandis Cook.6 Novak defines postopera in connection to the postdramatic – as defined by Hans-Thies Lehmann7 – and the postmodern. The research on postopera and the postoperatic is mostly concerned with newly written work. In an interview on this subject, Till and designer Kandis Cook state: “…as far as we’re concerned the post-life of opera in contemporary culture is something that’s way more interesting to investigate than most of the works in the repertory.”8 Next to this Jelena Novak states: “the notion of postopera that I plead for does not refer to conventional opera and its contemporary reworkings, but only to unconventional recently created pieces.”9 However, looking at the calendar of the big opera houses in the Netherlands and Belgium, one notices that there are only a few contemporary pieces programmed. This seems to apply to opera houses all over the world. According to the statistics of operabase – an online database keeping track of the events in opera houses all over the world – works by Verdi, Mozart and Puccini are performed the most, by far. Richard Strauss is the first twentieth century composer in the list, at position 10; the highest ranked living composer is Philip Glass at position 41. The forty people before him, as the operabase-website mentions, are all ‘DWEM’s’: Dead White European Males.10 It seems safe to state that the main practice of opera houses is staging repertoire operas. Whether that is good or bad is not a discussion I am concerned with in this thesis, but it seems interesting to look for new possibilities in the common practice of staging the repertoire. In light of this I want to quote musicologist Matthias Rebstock, who mentions that “there is hardly a more urgent question in the field of opera than that of how we can treat the special cultural legacy these repertoire operas represent, and how we can manage to live up to the demand they address to us, namely that we meet them head on.”11 That is why in this thesis, through analysing the staging of Madama Butterfly by Hotel Pro Forma, I will research the possibilities of staging a repertoire piece as postopera, using narrative strategies and thereby opening up the possibility that the staging of a repertoire piece can also be regarded as postopera.

6 Novak, Jelena. Singing corporeality: reinventing the vocalic body in postopera. PhD diss. University of Amsterdam, 2012; Tambling, Jeremy. “Post-Opera? After Brecht.” Opera and the Culture of Fascism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 229-248; Till, Nicholas. “‘I don’t mind if something’s operatic, just as long it’s not opera’. A Critical Practice for New Opera and Music Theatre”. Contemporary Theatre Review, vol. 14, no. 1, 2004, pp. 15-24. 7 Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Postdramatic Theatre. New York and London: Routledge, 2006. 8 Till and Cook in Novak 2012, 29. 9 Novak 2012, 29. 10 Operabase, ‘Opera statistics 2015/16’. http://operabase.com/top.cgi?lang=nl&splash=t. accessed 12 June 2017. 11 Rebstock, Matthias. ‘Varieties of Independent Music Theatre in Europe’. Independent Theatre in Contemporary Europe. Eds. Brauneck and ITI Germany. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2017, 567.

7 theoretical framework and method The main question of this thesis is: in what way do narrative strategies inform the dramaturgy of the staging of Madama Butterfly by Hotel Pro Forma? This results in sub- questions like: what is narrative? How does Hotel Pro Forma use narrative as a strategy? How do these strategies influence the original piece? In what terms can this staging be defined? Are conventional narrative terms adequate to analyse this staging? In addition to this main part of my thesis I conclude with a discussion on the possibilities of this staging – of a repertoire piece – to be considered as a postopera. This leads to the following structure. The first part of this thesis is concerned with narratology, which can be defined as “the study of structure in narratives.”12 I will outline the origins of this field of study and its most important terms for the purpose of this thesis. Starting with and I will discuss the polarization of the terms diegesis and . These two of ways to convey a story, in simple terms by recounting it (diegesis) or imitating it (mimesis), will form the basis for my analysis later on. After this I will move on to one of the leading structuralist narratologists of the last century, Gérard Genette. I will discuss his views on diegesis and mimesis and his narrative theories concerned with different levels of and the concept of focalization, on which I will elaborate with a book by Maya van den Heuvel-Arad in which she analyses theatre adaptations of through the concept of focalization, as outlined by the influential narratologist Mieke Bal.13 I will illustrate some of the theories in this first part by my own examples, mainly the books the Neverending Story by Michael Ende and A little life by Hanya Yanagihara, to which I will at times refer in the rest of this thesis.14 Moving from literature to the realm of the audio-visual, I will discuss narratology in film. I will especially discuss the transformation of the term diegesis and the use of its adjective diegetic in combination with the negative counterpart nondiegetic, which became a common practice in film studies after Etienne Souriau proposed them.15 These terms are often used to describe sound in film as coming from the inside of the visible realm of the film (diegetic), or from the outside (nondiegetic).16 To illustrate the theories in this part, I

12 ‘Narratology’. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/narratology Accessed 19 July 2017. 13 Heuvel-Arad, Maya van den. Focalizing bodies: visual narratology in the post-dramatic theatre. Marburg: Tectum-Verlag, 2011. 14 Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1983; Yanagihara, Hanya. A little life. United States: Doubleday, 2015. 15 Souriau 1951. 16 Neumeyer, David. “Diegetic/Nondiegetic: A Theoretical Model”. Music and the Moving Image, vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2009, pp. 26-39.

8 will take the The Sound of Music as a main example.17 As a bridge from film narratology to narratology in opera, I will shortly discuss some comparative arguments between the two made by Robbert van der Lek in his book Diegetic Music in Opera and Film.18 In opera, as in theatre in general, narratology connects to categorical notions such as ‘dramatic’ and ‘epic’. To get into this terminology I will discuss the book Leitmotiv and . Wagner, Brecht, and the Limits of ‘Epic’ Theatre by a scholar in German Studies, Hilda Meldrum Brown.19 For my thesis it is interesting to discuss what Brown has to say about the dramatic and epic qualities in operas by Richard Wagner and Bertolt Brecht, because they represent two different positions in terms of , respectively drama and epic. I want to take a look at these genre classifications because I will argue that while the original opera Madama Butterfly is a dramatic piece, its 2017 staging is not, because of its particular way of contrasting the drama with narrative. Contrasting drama with other (non-dramatic) elements is an important feature of the Epic theatre, as defined by Brecht.20 I discuss the positions of Wagner and Brecht to later help analyse how the particular staging of Butterfly fits into these categories. A lot of the narratological terminology is based on (assumed) polarizations – between mimesis-diegesis, diegetic-nondiegetic, dramatic-epic – that might not prove to be sufficient in analysing ambiguous elements in the staging, such as the storyteller I mentioned above. In light of this I will introduce in this thesis the notion of ambi-diegesis, a term coined by professor Morris Holbrook (2003), to help analyse those traits that do not easily fit in just one category or the other. Although he specifically applies his concept of ambi-diegesis to classify certain types of song in the genre of the musical film, I will explore the broader possibilities of this term for the purpose of narratological analysis. At the end of this first, theoretical part, I hope to have accumulated and clarified the notions needed for the second part, which will be analytical. In this chapter I will analyse the opera Madama Butterfly according to the theoretical framework I provided in the first chapter. I will investigate the textual source of the opera, the score and libretto before moving on to the (audio-visual) staging of it, in this case the staging by Hotel Pro Forma in 2017. I will aim to clarify the narrative structures of this staging and how they are used as

17 Wise, Robert. The Sound of Music. United States: 20th Century Fox, 1965. 18 Lek, Robbert A. van der. Diegetic music in opera and film: a similarity between two of drama analysed in works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897 - 1957). Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1991. 19 Brown, Hilda Meldrum. Leitmotiv and drama: Wagner, Brecht, and the limits of epic theatre. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. 20 Brecht, Bertolt. 1949. "A Short Organum for the Theatre". Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Ed. and trans. John Willett. London: Methuen, 1964, 204.

9 dramaturgical strategies to generate meaning for this opera and on a broader level to bring this repertoire opera into the present. In the third and last part I take the discussion to another level. I will take the conclusions of the previous parts of my thesis and contribute to the ongoing discussion on postopera described above. I will critically engage with its terminology and definitions, focusing on the theories of Novak and Till. I will take the outcomes of my analysis of the staging of Madama Butterfly and shortly reflect upon their connections to the postdramatic – following Lehmann’s theories on the matter – and the postmodern; combined in the term postopera. I argue that not only contemporary written pieces but also a staging of a repertoire opera, in particular the concerned production of Madama Butterfly because of its narrative strategies, should be considered in the postoperatic discourse. introduction case study As mentioned above, the major case study for this thesis is the production of Madama Butterfly at the Royal Theatre La Monnaie / De Munt in Brussels, in February 2017. The creation of this staging was in the hands of the Danish Kirsten Dehlholm, with her conceptual theatre collaboration Hotel Pro Forma, together with the Ulrike Quade Company (puppet theatre). Hotel Pro Forma was founded in 1985 by Dehlholm and developed into an “international laboratory of performance, installation and opera.”21 Exploring the work of Hotel Pro Forma, keywords like ‘collaboration’, ‘visual’, ‘conceptual’ and ‘experiment’ are dominant. It is a changing collective of artists, like a hotel full of guests. Some just stay for one project, others become residents. Key is that every piece of Hotel Pro Forma is the product of a collaborative process, not only in rehearsals but also in building concepts for performances, which forms an important part of their projects.22 Over the years Hotel Pro Forma has taken on some projects involving repertoire operas and music. For example Operation: Orfeo (1993), in which “causal and dramaturgic sequence in libretto and music is replaced by a series of tableaux and compositions informed by purely visual and auditive principles rather than by dramatic modes of narration. The performance is a visual interpretation which comes to rediscover the basic elements of traditional opera.”23 The emphasis on the visual (rather than narration) is something that also characterizes Hotel Pro Forma’s later engagements with opera, like Parsifal (2013) and Rachmaninov Troika (2015). The latter was the first production of Hotel Pro Forma at La

21 ‘About Hotel Pro Forma’. http://www.hotelproforma.dk/about-us/about-hotel-pro-forma/ 22 ‘About Hotel Pro Forma’. http://www.hotelproforma.dk/about-us/about-hotel-pro-forma/ 23 ‘Operation Orfeo’. http://www.hotelproforma.dk/projects/operation-orfeo-english/

10 Monnaie in Brussels. It was based on three short operas by Sergei Rachmaninov; Aleko, The Miserly Knight and Francesca di Rimini. Every piece is based on a distinct visual and dramaturgical concept, developed to construct the staging and to generate meaning. After this engagement the Danish Hotel Pro Forma came back to Brussels in November 2016, to rehearse for their newest repertoire staging: Madama Butterfly. For this staging Hotel Pro Forma made some interesting basic choices in forming a concept for this production. The most important one is the ‘doubling’ of Madama Butterfly, there is not one, but there are two Butterflies. I already mentioned one of them as the storyteller at the start of this introduction; the woman walking to her small podium in front of the stage where she – apart from one moment – remains the entire performance. This woman is the singer, she sings the melodies Puccini wrote. She is however by herself, in her own ‘universe’ on that small square, where she remains alone. Behind her on the stage we see all the other characters and we also see the other Butterfly; not in human form, but as a puppet. It is as if what we see on the stage is the memory of the woman on the podium, with the puppet portraying her younger self. Or rather, herself when she was still alive. Different times and spaces are shown alongside each other in this performance; something that is only happening in this staging, not in the original dramatic piece, which shows only one ‘universe’. In the discussion of this staging I will analyse how Hotel Pro Forma’s dramaturgical concept for their Madama Butterfly, based on narrative strategies, influences the piece and the way it is perceived. Next to this doubling of Butterfly in the storyteller and the puppet I will touch upon other elements in this staging, such as a group of dancers (the ‘ninjas’), costumes and set design. Although the choice for a puppet in this staging is very interesting for further research, my main focus in the analysis will be on the storyteller. Unfortunately the limited space of this paper does not allow getting into details about the puppet, but I will reflect upon it when necessary. Next to analysing these particular elements, I will also highlight some specific moments in the performance (which I call the ‘Silent scene’ and the ‘Fontana scene’) and discuss them in terms of narratology.

11 Part 1. Narrative

1.1 narratology Narratology is a discipline concerned with the “logic, principles and practices of narrative representation.”24 The term was proposed by Tzvetan Todorov in 1969 but gained widespread recognition after the publishing of Narratologie. Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes (1977) by literary theorist Mieke Bal.25 Narrative became a much-discussed subject in light of the structuralist movement that originated in Paris in the second half of the twentieth century. Their focus on narrative changed the discourse of narrative study and analysis. Narrative theory finds its origins in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. I will outline their perspectives on narrative before moving on to discuss the contributions to this field by the French structuralist Gérard Genette.

1.1.1 different manners of speaking In his book The (around 380 BC), Plato recounts a ‘Socratic dialogue’ between Socrates and his companions Glaucon and Adeimantus. In discussing , Socrates makes a distinction between simple narrative and narrative through . At this point they are concluding their conversation about education, in particular the education of the guardian class that would protect an ideal, ‘fevered’ state. The guardian’s exposure to imitative poetry should be limited as much as possible in favour of the simpler form of telling a story. Socrates clearly favours this ‘simple narrative’ for the educational that the guardian is not tricked by the poetry and mistakes the imitation for the real thing.26 Plato elaborates on the two domains proposed by his teacher. He makes a distinction between logos, “the contents of stories” and , “the manner in which they are told”.27 Lexis can be broken down into three main categories: haple diegesis (“simple narrative”), diegesis dia mimeseos (“narrative through imitation”) and diegesis di’amphoteron (“combined narrative”).28 Plato supports this theoretical claim with the Iliad. In some parts the author, Homer, presents his text as if someone else was speaking the words, pretending

24 Meister, Jan Christoph: "Narratology". In: Hühn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. 8 March 2013, [17]. 25 Meister 2013, [18]. 26 Plato, G.R.F. Ferrari. The Republic. Trans. Tom Griffith. Cambridge University Press, 2003, 392c-394d, 396c- 397d. 27 Halliwell, Stephen: "Diegesis - Mimesis". In: Hühn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. 17 October 2012, [5]. 28 Halliwell 2012, [5].

12 to be the that is speaking. Here Homer tells the story on someone else’s authority, thus in a mimetical diegetic way; as an imitator. In the very last sentences for example, the author takes on the role of King Priam:

“Then King Priam spoke to them, saying, ‘Bring wood, O Trojans, to the city, and fear no cunning ambush of the Argives, for Achilles when he dismissed me from the ships gave me his word that they should not attack us until the morning of the twelfth day.’ ”29

In other parts the author recounts the story in a simple diegetic way; as a narrator. He tells the story on his own authority, not pretending it is someone else who is speaking. Homer ends his poem in this way, with the sentence:

“Thus, then, did they celebrate the funeral of Hector tamer of horses.”30

Plato prefers this last manner of speaking, and states that Homer should have written his whole poem in this way of ‘simple narrative’, avoiding imitation. For example, he could have written:

“Then King Priam spoke to the Trojans, telling them to bring wood to the city, and not to fear a cunning ambush of the Argives, for Achilles gave him his word that they should not attack until the morning of the twelfth day.”31

In the Iliad however, Homer combines the use of haple diegesis and diegesis dia mimeseos, thus the whole work can be defined as diegesis di’amphoteron. In book 10 of the Republic Plato argues that ‘imitative poetry is the last thing we should allow’.32 According to his philosophy the imitator of an object is twice removed from the truth. He uses the example of a player of the ‘flute’.33 The player uses the flute, is therefore closest to the truth and can instruct the maker of the flutes which instruments are good and which are not. Whereas the imitator, say a painter of the flute, will not have used or made the instruments and does neither have knowledge, nor correct opinion about the goodness or badness of the things he imitates. “What a wonderful guide the poetic imitator

29 Homer. The Iliad & The Odyssey. Trans. Samuel Butler. 30 Ibid. 31 My example. 32 Plato 2003, 313. 33 Note: the English I use translates the Greek αὐλός with ‘pipes’, I chose the clearer, and probably more accurate translation of ‘flute’ in this example.

13 must be, then, if we want wisdom on the subjects he writes about.”34 Plato continues with his dismissal of the poetic imitation based on its removal from the truth and thereby the ‘bewitching’ of the one who sees it, the audience, claiming that this imitation is the truth. Theatre scholar William Gruber writes that Plato’s attack on poetry is not an attack on dramatic literature itself. Plato rejects drama ‘insofar as it consists of imitative performances done in the presence of spectators.’35 In another text Gruber insists that Plato is not simply opposing theatre – however this is the common misunderstanding – he is opposing mimesis specifically because of the soporific quality of it: it invites an audience to be fooled and “sleep through the deluge that threatens them.”36 This notion is related to the subject matter of the Socratic dialogue Plato is recounting. As mentioned above, they are talking about the guardians of an imaginary city. Certainly, a guardian must not mistake the fake thing for the real one, must not be seduced by a threat guised as a reassurance, or the city would be in danger. Aristotle, a contemporary of Plato, also discusses diegesis in his . Like Plato he recognizes different forms of telling a story. He mentions the differences between the of the , the mode of and and the mixed mode represented by the epos.37 Right at the start of the Poetics he states that all poetry is a form of mimesis (imitation).38 So, although he does make distinctions between different ways of telling a story, he assigns them all to be mimetic. Aristotle is not so much concerned with the ethical and psychological connotations of the different modes. The Poetics is mostly concerned with aesthetic merit and characteristics of well-written tragedy. Thus, when Aristotle does discuss the prevalence of one mode over the other, he does not argue in the same way Plato does in the Republic but compares them based on , and comes to a different conclusion. Aristotle notes that because traditionally the epos appealed to the educated segment of society and tragedy appeals to everyone, the latter is often considered vulgar. For him, however, this is an argument outside of the art form itself and he gives four arguments as to why tragedy is the most ideal. Firstly, because tragedy possesses all the same elements of epos and more, like dance, music, singing, décor. Secondly, because of the purely imitative quality of tragedy it creates greater illusion than the epic, and thus comes closer to reality. This is of course exactly the argument that Plato uses when

34 Plato 2003, 322. 35 Gruber, W. Offstage space, narrative, and the theatre of the imagination. Place of publication not identified: Palgrave McMillan, 2016, 201. 36 Quote Theodor Adorno in Gruber 2016, 82. 37 Aristotle. Poëtica. Trans. N. Van Der. Ben and J.M. Breemer. Amsterdam: Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennep, 2004, 47a8-47b24. 38 Ibid., 47a13.

14 opposing the imitative art form. In his last two arguments on the matter Aristotle states that the effect of tragedy is greater because of its unity. The unities of time, space and are most important throughout the Poetics. Because tragedy is only concerned with one mode of diegesis and does not alter between first- and third-person narratives, like the epos, it is the better of the two, in the eyes of Aristotle.39 Though Plato and Aristotle both acknowledge the same differences in ‘ways of telling’, lexis in Plato’s words, their approach is very different. Plato rejects purely imitative poetry because of its deceptive power on the audience, while the mode of imitation is actually why Aristotle prefers it. But, as mentioned above, Plato argues from a philosophical, even political point of view (Republic) and Aristotle from an aesthetic one (Poetics). These conflicting views on imitation will come back time and time again throughout (art) history. In the context of this I will discuss the ideas of Wagner and Brecht on these matters later on, which are reminiscent of this classical opposition in terms of (respectively) drama and epic. These genres are connected to the diegetic notions of Plato and Aristotle; drama connecting to mimesis, and epic to ‘epos’, thus a mixed form between mimesis and diegesis. For now it is important to remember that Plato and Aristotle, however discussing poetry as a literary art as well as a performance practice, are concerned in their analysis with literary and textual matters. This is also (still) the case in this first part of my thesis. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, narrative became a much-discussed topic in the second half of the twentieth century. In light of structuralism, concerned with the structure of language, the discussion on diegesis and mimesis and all the matters it implicates flared up. like Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes reflect upon the structures of language and text.40 Another important scholar to contribute to this field of narratology (avant la lettre) is Gérard Genette. He takes the terminology of narrative from the classics into modern times and provided an elaborate taxonomy of narrative, generally concerned with literature.

1.1.2 narratology in the twentieth century In his Frontières du récit (1966) Genette writes that Plato and Aristotle agree on a primary distinction between two modes of poetic representation, namely narration (diegesis) and imitation (mimesis). He carefully explores the similarities between the ideas

39 Aristotle 2004, 61b26-62a14. 40 See: Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Anthropologie Structurale. Paris: Plon, 1958; Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Paris: Les Lettres nouvelles, 1957.

15 of the two writers and concludes that they both meant to say the same thing and that the difference is only a variation in terms.41 He states that their two classifications “agree on the essential opposition between the dramatic and the narrative”, in other words the opposition between the mimetic and the diegetic. According to Genette the difference between the two Greeks is not their classification system, but the reversal of value42 – as I also mentioned above. After this statement, Genette carries on by making an observation with which “neither Plato nor Aristotle seems to have been concerned.”43 He argues that the opposition between mimesis and diegesis in literary representation is a false observation on the part of the ancient writers. Because diegesis as well as mimesis are both conveyed via the same medium: text. In other words: letters can never imitate a thing existing in the real world, “language can but perfectly imitate language.”44 (He quotes Williams James’ “the word dog doesn’t bite” to strengthen his argument). Genette concludes his argument by stating:

“Platon opposait mimèsis à diègèsis comme une imitation parfait à une imitation imparfaite; mais l’imitation parfait n’est plus une imitation, c’est la chose meme, et finalemet la seule imitation, c’est l’imparfaite. Mimèsis, c’est diègèsis.”45

Genette mentions that Plato opposed mimesis to diegesis, like a perfect imitation to an imperfect one. Let us rewind a little bit in analysing this statement. Did Plato actually regard mimesis as opposed to diegesis? Did he not distinguish three different forms of lexis or manner of speaking? This alleged opposition between diegesis and mimesis is the basis for most discourse on the matter in the past fifty years.46 One of the main for this, I want to argue here (following professor Stephen Halliwell)47, is a simplification of Plato’s terminology. What Plato defines as haple diegesis is now abbreviated into diegesis and diegesis dia mimeseos simply becomes mimesis. This simplification in terminology paves the way for a dichotomy between the two terms. The confusion arises because the term diegesis is not only used as an overarching ‘umbrella’ term, but also as one of its own categories. Furthermore, Plato mentions a third, mixed style: diegesis di’amphoteron. Genette and his contemporaries do not ignore this style, but the focus is on the dichotomy of the

41 Genette Gérard. ‘Frontières du récit’. In: Communications, 8, 1966, 155. 42 Ibid., 152 and 155. 43 Ibid., 155. 44 Ibid., 154. 45 Ibid., 156. “Plato opposed mimesis to diegesis as a perfect imitation to an imperfect imitation. However, a perfect imitation is no longer an imitation; it is the thing itself. Ultimately the only imitation is the imperfect one. Mimesis is diegesis.” Trans. Ann Levonas, 1976. 46 Halliwell 2012, [18]. 47 Ibid.

16 other two. Although they are different categories I would argue that they are not simply opposing each other, because of the fact that Plato named them ‘simple diegesis’ and ‘diegesis through mimesis’. In his very terminology he makes clear that mimesis does not oppose diegesis, but is itself a form of diegesis. Imitation is one way of telling a story, next to using narration to convey a message, or a style that mixes both manners of speaking. Although the two terms are useful as categories, also for the purpose of this thesis, it feels important to note that they should not be so easily polemicized but imagined as complementing each other. I would argue they oppose each other like our right and left leg oppose each other, both on the other side but actually being quite alike. It is not surprising that this dichotomy between mimesis and diegesis arose in studies of literature. Because even if a text is of a ‘mixed’ form (which most texts are)48, the two modes present themselves one after the other. They are presented within the same medium, the text, which shifts almost unnoticeably from one mode into the other. But no matter how smoothly the shifts go, the text can only be one of the two at a time. Or rather, the reader can only read one thing at a time. To illustrate the different forms in a text, I want to take the -book The Neverending Story by Michael Ende as an example. The book features two stories that come together in a magical way. It starts with the story of Bastian, a chubby boy that gets picked on at school. We follow him into a bookshop where he is drawn to one book in particular: “The Neverending Story”. It attracts him so much that he cannot resist the urge to steal it, since he cannot afford to buy it. He takes it back to the attic of his school and starts to read. Up till now, the text we read in the book is printed in red. But once Bastian starts reading the book, we read along with him, in blue.49 The blue text is at times interrupted by the red text, or rather; the ‘book-story’ is interrupted by the ‘Bastian-story’. More and more, Bastian is immersed into the story he is reading; he starts hearing sounds he reads about, and eventually he reads in the book about sounds he is making in the attic. He realises that he is part of the story he is reading. The red text appears less and less, and eventually he is literally becoming part of the book-story, so we continue to read in blue. The precise moment of Bastian getting immersed into the story cannot be represented in the form of the text. In the text, he cannot be in two places at once. What in film or theatre could be happening simultaneously, is here indicated by the sentence: “In that moment several things happened at once.”50 The two worlds remain strictly separated; it is red or

48 Genette 1966, 154. 49 In other versions the colors differ, or the text is all black but the difference exists in italics/non-italics. 50 Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1983, 204.

17 blue, never purple. The simultaneity is fabricated in our minds, but not represented in the form of the text. This mechanism is something that will become more complicated when discussing narrative in film or theatre, not only using text but all kinds of elements.

1.1.3 Narrative levels After treating narrative in a more general and stylistic way above, I want to take the discussion from how something is told into the realm of by whom something is told, the narrator. This evokes questions like: ‘who is telling this story?’ and ‘whose story is this?’ These are questions with which Genette is also concerned in his book Narrative discourse: an essay in method (1983). In this work he distinguishes five concepts with which narrative is concerned: order, frequency, duration, voice and . In ‘Voice’, Genette writes about different voices and presents a taxonomy of possible kinds of narrators in a literary work (in his case mostly Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu). First he distinguishes the intradiegetic and the extradiegetic narrator: where is the narration coming from? The intradiegetic narrator exists in the text; is a character in the story. Consequently, the extradiegetic narrator does not exist in the text, but outside of it. Next to this Genette provides two possibilities to answer the question if the narrator is a character in the story. If the narrator is, then it is a homodiegetic narrator. If the narrator is not a character in the story, Genette speaks of a heterodiegetic narrator.51 These notions always come in pairs. For example Genette defines Homer as a heterodiegetic-extradiegetic narrator, while he classifies Odysseus as a homodiegetic-intradiegetic narrator (in books IX-XII, Odyssey). These diegetic classifications are closely connected to first and third person perspective, ‘I’ or ‘he/she/it’. It is however not necessarily the case that in a first-person narrative the ‘I’ is actually the narrator. To illustrate this I will take a look at the book A little life (2015) in which writer Hanya Yanagihara writes about four friends, describing their lives in the third person. When she writes about what is going on in their minds, she keeps writing ‘he felt like…’ or ‘Jude thought…’. Yanagihara is an extradiegetic-heterodiegetic narrator. This role of the writer as the (absent) omniscient narrator is probably the most common in modern literature. However, two chapters in the book are written from a first person perspective.52 At first it is hard to define who is the ‘I’, but it gradually becomes clear it is Harold speaking, the godfather of Jude, a character we already get to know throughout the story. Now, in these chapters the narrator is homodiegetic-intradiegetic.

51 Genette, G. Narrative discourse: an essay in method. Translated by Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1980, 248. 52 Yanagihara, Hanya. A little life. United States: Doubleday, 2015, chapters: IV The Axiom of Equality – 2 and VII Lispenard Street.

18 But one must not forget that Harold is a fictional character, sprung from the mind of Yanagihara. So in this case the reader is tricked by the writer into believing we are reading the words of Harold, a fictional elderly man, when we are actually still reading the words of Yanagihara, a real young woman.53 So, on the level of the story, Harold is the narrator, but on the level of the text as a whole, the narrator is still the writer. Genette reflects on these different levels in Narrative discourse. Under the title ‘Narrative levels’ Genette describes a “sort of threshold represented by the narrating itself, a different level.”54 A classification of narratives can be made: first, second, even third or fourth narratives can be defined. In the case described above, Harold’s narrative is contained within the first one “[…] in the sense that the narrator of the second narrative is already a character in the first one, and that the of narrating which produces the second narrative is an event recounted in the first one.”55 He goes on to define this difference in level: “any event a narrative recounts is at a diegetic level immediately higher than the level at which the narrating act producing this narrative is placed.”56 Genette notes that, in literature, the first level of narration is always extradiegetic. This is the level of the writer, the creator, without whom the second level, or the intradiegetic would not exist. The chapters where Harold is the narrator can in turn be defined as metadiegetic, embedded in the intradiegetic narration, which is in turn the product of Yanagihara, the extradiegetic narrator. Thus a story, any story, cannot exist without at least one extradiegetic narrator.57 The fact that there can be multiple narrative levels to a story does not mean that those levels are always strictly isolated. Genette coins the term metalepsis and describes the possibility of the narrator to travel into another narrative level, and its effect:

“Any intrusion by the extradiegetic narrator […] into the diegetic universe (or by diegetic characters into a metadiegetic universe, etc.), or the inverse […], produces an effect of strangeness that is either comical […] or fantastic.”58

53 Interestingly the authority of Yanagihara to write as and about these characters and their traumas has been scrutinized in multiple reviews. A discussion sparked by diegetic levels. For example Christian Lorentzen who states “I blame the author” in his review in London Review of Books, vol. 37, no. 18, 24 September 2015. 54 Genette 1980, 228. Original emphasis. 55 Ibid., 228. 56 Ibid., 228. 57 Musicologist Karol Berger notes the same precondition, yet in her terms of ‘immediate’ and ‘reported’ speech, when stating: “…a literary work, any literary work, must present its content by means of at least one voice and it may employ many voices. All of the voices heard in a literary work may speak immediately, or only some voices may speak immediately, while others have their speech reported by those speaking immediately. When the work employs only one voice, this must speak immediately. When several voices are heard, they may all speak immediately and at least one of them must speak immediately.” Berger 1994, 410. 58 Genette 1980, 235.


Genette emphasises that this leap between narratives is quite unconventional – either comical or fantastic. I already gave an example of metalepsis in describing The Neverending Story. Bastian – being an intradiegetic character produced by the extradiegetic writer Ende – leaps into the universe of the story he is reading, which can be described as metadiegetic. In terms of Plato and Aristotle, the whole book of Ende is of mixed narrative form. Sometimes Ende is narrating in his own voice, sometimes he pretends to speak with somebody else’s. In simple terms, he shifts between ‘he’ and ‘I’. In the understanding of Genette however, all kinds of different narrative levels and universes can be distinguished. The notions of diegesis and narrative analysis have evolved since Plato’s times. Where he and Aristotle used diegesis as a ‘flat’ term, meaning narrative and distinguishing between a simple, imitative and mixed form, Genette (and others) have elaborated on the term and opened it up to a lot more possibilities. This is what Tzvetan Todorov stressed when he proposed narratology as a new field of study, arguing for “a shift in focus from the surface level of text-based narrative (i.e. concrete discourse as realized in the form of letters, words and sentences) to the general logical and structural properties of narrative as a univers de representations.”59 Following this idea, one does not merely distinguish the singular noun diegesis, but can also use its adjective, ‘diegetic’, to analyse and classify between multiple diegeses; between different ‘universes’ that are represented in the (literary) work. This understanding of narrative is not founded by Todorov or Genette, or any literary theorist whatsoever, but is derived from the notion of diegesis in film studies. Since this thesis is concerned with an audio-visual art form, opera, it is helpful to see how diegetic terminology has been applied outside of the realm of literature. Before moving on to the audio-visual I will first discuss the notion of ‘focalization’, which serves here as a bridge between literary and visual narratology.

1.1.4 focalization In her book Focalizing Bodies, visual narratology in the Post-Dramatic Theatre, Maya van den Heuvel-Arad applies narrative theory to theatre, focusing on focalization. This is a term also coined by Genette in Narrative discourse. It is concerned with the question of perspective; through whom we are seeing (reading, imagining) the story? Genette makes a threefold distinction between narratives of zero focalization, internal focalization and external focalization. The first denoting a narrative by an omniscient narrator, who oversees

59 Meister 2013, [13]

20 everything and knows more than all the characters. The second notion, internal focalization, signifies narrative coming from the point of view of a character. The last one, external focalization, meaning the perspective of a narrator who knows less than a character.60 As already becomes clear in these definitions, focalization is concerned with point of view and perspective (terms that Genette considered to be “too visual connotations.”)61, and is a helpful term to move to the realm of visual narrative. Van den Heuvel-Arad notes that the concept of focalization has been undergoing a lot of debate since its origin. In her dissertation she follows the view on focalization as outlined by narratologist Mieke Bal, who considers Genette’s notion of the concept to be too limiting, since it only concerns the relation between narrator and character.62 Bal broadens focalization into the realm of visual narratology. Following van den Heuvel-Arad, I want to mention two distinctions Bal makes. The first one is between subject and object of focalization; the focalizer and the focalized. The focalizer being “the point from which the elements are viewed”, ‘the elements’ meaning what is focalized; like another character, an object or landscape.63 The second distinction is made on the part of the focalizer, who can be an entity external or internal to the narrative. Bal mentions that the boundaries between these two are not always clear and that one can speak of ambiguous focalization.64 An example of an ambiguous focalizer can be found in the character of Harold that I mentioned when discussing the book A little life some pages ago. As an example I will take the following fragment:

“Later, when things got bad, I would wonder what I could have said or done. Sometimes I would think that there was nothing I could have said – there was something that might have helped, but none of us saying it could have convinced him.”65

As I discussed Harold serves a narrator in two chapters of the book, telling the story from a first-person perspective. In terms of focalization it is interesting that he uses ‘I’ in combination with the (‘I could have’). Van den Heuvel-Arad analyses that the use of ‘I’ in combination with the past tense, signifies that the character that is speaking as an older version of himself in his narration. The older version focalizes the story in which

60 Genette 1980, 188-192. 61 Ibid., 189. 62 Heuvel-Arad, Maya van den. Focalizing bodies: visual narratology in the post-dramatic theatre. Marburg: Tectum-Verlag, 2011, 17. 63 Ibid., 20. 64 Ibid., 21. 65 Yanagihara 2015, 418.

21 his younger version is the focalizer. Which means that he is both an external and internal focalizer. In my example, the ‘older’ Harold is the external focalizer and the younger Harold the internal focalizer in his narration. Van den Heuvel-Arad concludes that when “…the level of focalization is not clear we might speak of ‘ambiguous focalization’.”66 In this case the character of Harold is thus an ambiguous focalizer. The more we go into the realm of the ‘three-dimensional’, the more ambiguous the narratives get. Literary narratology will prove insufficient in studying narrative in film “…because the two media are essentially different. Whereas literature relies on language as its exclusive medium, film contains, apart from language, also images, sounds, music, etc.”67 In this field of study, narratology is not only concerned with language, but also with image and sound. Before moving on to the medium of opera it is therefore helpful to look at the application of narratology to this audio-visual art form.

1.2 narratology in film The French cinematographic theorist Etienne Souriau coined the terms diégèse and diégetique.68 As Genette and others point out, the two terms are not derived from the Greek diegesis, for the French use ‘diegesis’ for this narratological term. In fact, though the words are very similar, they are part of two very different discourses.69 The distinction between diegesis and diégèse in French is lost in English and other languages. It is however an important one. In the writings of Souriau and many others, diégetique is opposed by non- diégetique, translated with diegetic and nondiegetic. In its meaning of ‘story-world’, the terms are used to categorize whether something is part of that world (diegetic) or not (nondiegetic). In various texts there is variation in terms, such as part of the or not part of the action, the story, the , the universe, etcetera, but it all comes down to the same thing. The terms were first used by Souriau to make an analytical distinction between elements of a film that are part of the world the characters live in and elements that are part of the film but not part of the world that is portrayed in the film.70 A nondiegetic element in film would be an informative text pasted onto the screen in the editing room, imagine for example “Paris, 1945”, or “three years later…”. Although Genette borrowed the terms diégèse and diégetique from Souriau, he does not make the distinction between

66 Term by Mieke Bal in van den Heuvel-Arad 2011, 22. 67 Ibid. 68 Souriau 1951, 233. 69 Genette 1980, 27; Neumeyer 2009; van der Lek 1991, 29. 70 Souriau 1951, 233-235.

22 diegetic and nondiegetic, or at least not in the same words. Musicologist David Neumeyer clarifies the confusion of terminology:

“Regardless of whether or not diégèse had any roots in ancient writings, it enabled (perhaps even forced) the separation of two levels of narration in which the diegetic/nondiegetic pair are easily situated: the narration proper and extradiegetic narration. (Extradiegetic is Genette's term for what is called the nondiegetic in film theory; intradiegetic = diegetic.)71

Instead of the separation between diegetic and nondiegetic, Genette insisted on intradiegetic and extradiegetic. So why didn’t Genette use this opposition? I want to argue that it is easier in film to make a categorical dichotomy between diegetic and the negative nondiegetic, because of the use of different media to bring about the message. Genette is only concerned with one medium, text. All of the diegesis is text, whether it is extra, intra, mimetic, diegetic, etc. In film the reader becomes the spectator. The story-world is not an imagination in the readers mind, but actually presented visually. Usually the visual story- world in a film forms a coherent whole; one presented universe in which the characters exist. If this universe is interrupted by a black screen with white letters stating, for example, that we are now in “Amsterdam, 2017”, it is clear that this is a visual from another universe than the coherent world inhabited by the characters. So, everything that happens in the ‘coherent whole’ just described is designated as diegetic in film theory, the textual “Amsterdam, 2017” as non-diegetic. Although this seems like a very logical distinction I want to stress that it can be a misleading one. The negative ‘non’ implies that the elements or parts designated as nondiegetic, have nothing to do with diegesis, which is not correct in my opinion. The so-called nondiegetic elements are narrative elements that constitute a diegesis themselves and influence the ‘diegetic’ universe of the film. Imagine, for example that the three ‘nondiegetic’ interventions that I just made up appear in a film: Paris, 1945 – three years later – Amsterdam 2017. Those textual interventions frame the ‘diegetic’ part of the film, and thereby influence it. If the ‘diegetic’ visual is of a man in a room and I did not see “Paris, 1945”, the image has a different meaning than it would have whether I had seen the text. Which brings me to another point; those ‘nondiegetic’ instances do form the diegesis in the minds of the spectator. As far as the film-spectator is concerned this extra information does help to constitute the narrative in his imagination. To call these elements nondiegetic would be a bit too careless in my view, since nondiegetic implies that the elements have nothing to do with diegesis or the diegetic universe. Just because those

71 Neumeyer 2009, 27.

23 elements come from another place than the visual diégèse, does not mean that they do not affect it. Hence in this thesis, I would like to stick with Genette’s terminology of extra and intradiegetic, though the of terms will arise time and time again, since it seems to be at the core of these matters.

1.2.1 Diegesis of sound and music Up till now I only discussed visual/textual interventions, though the diegetic analysis can also be, and is very often, applied to sound and music in film. The distinction between diegetic/nondiegetic is turned into a question: does the character hear the same thing as the audience? If the character does hear it, the sound (music or otherwise) is coming from within the story-world. In film analysis this kind of sound is labelled as diegetic sound.72 If the character does not hear the sound, but the spectator does, that would be called nondiegetic. As argued in the previous I prefer the terminology of intradiegetic and extradiegetic and will continue with these terms. A good example of intradiegetic sound would be a phone ringing, a knock on a door, a gunshot – mostly sounds that connect directly to the action of a character in some way.73 The same goes for music. It can come from within the world of the characters – Rose and Jack dancing to a gipsy band on a below-deck of the Titanic – or only be audible to the audience – to stay on the same boat, Celine Dion crying out “My heart will go on.” Filmmakers often play on the border of this division, which can inspire some interesting scenes. For example, to stay with miss Dion, the Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan uses her song “On ne change pas” in his movie Mommy (2014). A son, his mother and their neighbour have a little get-together in the kitchen. The son takes out his stereo and puts on the song. They start dancing and singing along. In the quality of the sound the spectator hears that the music is coming from the stereo, it is intradiegetic. We still hear the other sounds the three are making – laughing, singing, drinking. But then, right at the of the song, the quality of the sound changes into ‘direct’ sound, suddenly blasting out of the cinema’s speakers. We still see the characters dancing to the same music, but we don’t hear the laughing and singing sounds of the characters anymore, i.e. the intradiegetic sounds. The song shifted from within the universe of the film to another level outside of it. The intradiegetic music seamlessly

72 Ibid., 26. 73 On a critical note, and to strengthen my argument in opposition of the diegetic/non-diegetic polarization: what part does the Foley-artist play in this respect? Luke Skywalker does not hear the whooshing of the lightsaber, it is actually the sound of microphone feedback of a tube TV added later in a sound studio. To state that there is only one diegetic world and everything else is non-diegetic is just not enough in my opinion. There are many layers to the construction of the narrative.

24 became extradiegetic. More variations on this can be found in films by him and many others. The lines become a bit blurry in the musical film. Do the characters hear themselves singing or not? As a common and interesting example I want to take the famous musical film The Sound of Music. There are, of course, many songs in the movie, but not all of them are of the same kind. The songs can also roughly be divided into the two categories concerned here. When the nuns sing “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” they are singing something that they would ‘normally’ discuss, in a speaking manner. An interesting paradox arises: it is clear that the characters are singing, though they do not seem to be aware of it themselves. Hence, can their song be considered extradiegetic or intradiegetic? For now, I would argue that the fact that they are not aware that they are singing means that their singing in that moment is only meant for the spectator. The singing is helping the spectator in constructing the narrative, but is not heard by the characters, ergo it is extradiegetic. I will come back to this statement in a few pages. Later on in the movie, the Von Trapp family sings “Edelweiss”. In this moment they know that they are singing, the song is intradiegetic. It does not carry the plot forward, but is meant as a performance in the movie. In other words, the characters hear themselves singing. Since I am concerned here with music and singing, I want to start turning to the realm of opera.

1.2.2 different types of song The diegetic sound analysis has been adopted by musicology and in particular opera studies. Though, of course, also in this field, different overlapping terms are omnipresent. To be clear: I use intradiegetic song as a song that can be heard by the character, they know that they are singing. Concerning extradiegetic song, the character is not aware that they are singing. In other words: the actor is singing, the character is communicating by means of what is said, not in what way it is said (through singing). This is the paradox of opera, we accept that everyone is singing, but the singing itself is not how the characters communicate and carry the plot, it is what they are singing, the language. Musicologists have picked up on the diegetic theories in film studies, and applied them to opera. In analysing Alban Berg’s Lulu, Derek R. Strykowski for example states that: “…diegetic music is audible from within the fiction of the opera, and the audience will gather clues from stage as well the score to ascertain this fact.”74 He derives this definition from another musicologist, Robbert van der Lek, who wrote the book Diegetic music in opera

74 Strykowski 2016, 4.

25 and film in which he analyses film- and opera-music from composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Van der Lek explains the term diegetic in the words of Souriau, as meaning “within the action.”75 Although he makes clear that he derives his terminology of the diegetic from film studies, he makes some critical statements about its negative counterpart, nondiegetic. He states that the dichotomy of diegetic/nondiegetic is useful in the case of film (note: he is talking about ‘normal’ film, not musical film), but does not suffice in analyzing opera music. Music “within the action of an opera or film may in both cases be referred to as ‘diegetic’ and the other music may in both cases be referred to as ‘non-diegetic’.” With this ‘other music’ in film he means the soundtrack, the background music. But, he carries on, in opera the “other music – the operatic music proper – gives the impression of being the medium by means of which the characters communicate and, for that reason being part of the action.”76 He comes to the same conclusion as I just did: the other music is not part of the action because the characters do not communicate through singing, but through what they are singing, ergo the text. The music is not diegetic since the characters do not hear themselves singing as the audience does. But, to state that this music is nondiegetic, coming from outside the ‘story-space’, is also a bridge too far since it is not an “externally added element like background music in film.” He concludes his critical terminological note by writing:

“The two “musical strata” which can be distinguished in opera are both in a sense “diegetic”, albeit for different reasons. “opera music” is diegetic because it represents the action (in this sense, “nondiegetic opera music” is a contradiction in terms); the diegetic music itself is diegetic because it is an element in the action. The fact that part of the opera score is performed in a separate area, the pit, cannot be regarded as a nondiegetic element, either. The music performed there is part of the action on stage just as much as the sung text is, as its function goes far beyond that of a mere accompaniment.”77

Van der Lek is struggling with the same issues as I have in the past chapter: how to define music that is external to the story-world, yet also helps to construct it? Van der Lek however only includes this as a critical note, after which he continues to use the distinction in the rest of his book. He uses nondiegetic not as a ‘terminological category’ but as a helpful negative counterpart to the term diegetic. I already discussed that I refrain from using the term nondiegetic in this thesis. I stated that what is commonly called ‘diegetic’

75 van der Lek 1991, 29. 76 Ibid., 31. 77 Ibid., 31-32.

26 should change into ‘intradiegetic’ and ‘nondiegetic’ into ‘extradiegetic’. Why then, this discussion on Van der Lek’s ideas? Because his critique on the nondiegetic in opera carries an argument in which the use of extradiegetic also does not suffice. In discussing “How do you solve a problem like Maria” two pages ago, I assigned this song to the realm of the extradiegetic. Here I used the preposition ‘extra’ instead of ‘non’ because, although it does not technically exist in the story-world of the characters, it is part of the diegesis; it does help construct the narrative. However, I might have jumped to this conclusion a bit too quickly. As Van der Lek points out, the singing of the character is different from the externally added background music. It exists on a different plane. Van der Lek leaves this in the middle by stating that it is not diegetic, but also not nondiegetic. The same goes for my preferred terms: it is not intradiegetic, but also not extradiegetic. The singing is actually coming from within the story-world of the characters, we see the nuns singing in the depicted world. On the other hand it has no effect on the depicted world, on the awareness of the character. This type of song exists in between the intra and the extra. Next to the ‘pure’ intradiegetic song (like “Edelweiss”) that remains intact, its counterpart is in need of a new term. Musicologist Peter Kivy also describes different types of song in opera. He makes a similar distinction as the one made above, but uses different terminology. He introduces this as follows:

“When Desdemona sings the “Willow Song” in Verdi’s Otello, she sings a song in the world of that work, her world, just as I sing a song in the real world, my world, when I sing “Melancholy Baby” in the shower. But when Desdemona converses with Iago, she also sings, whereas when I converse with my plumber about why my shower won’t work I do not sing: I speak.”78

Following Edward T. Cone, Kivy uses the terms ‘realistic song’ and ‘operatic song’ to distinguish between the two forms.79 Realistic song is when Desdemona sings “Willow Song”; operatic song is when she converses with Iago. In this terminology the problem of getting stuck in the different levels of diegesis is omitted. However I would argue that it does not suffice in this context, since this terminology is only concerned with song. In opera there would still be a problem in analysing the other intradiegetic-extradiegetic elements such as the music played by the orchestra. The term ‘ambi-diegetic’, coined by

78 Kivy 1994, 63. 79 Cone, Edward T., and Robert P. Morgan. Music, a View from Delft: Selected Essays. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1989.

27 Morris Holbrook, might prove helpful in light of coming to terms with the ambiguous position of this kind of music.

1.3 ambi-diegesis Morris Holbrook, a professor of marketing at Columbia University, New York, coined a term in 2003 that is little known and has not found its way into mainstream analyses, in film, narratology or other fields. In discussing some of the songs in the musical film High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and a young Grace Kelly, he states that some songs in this movie are both diegetic and nondiegetic at the same time. To analyse this type of song, he proposed the term ambi-diegetic.80 What does Holbrook actually mean? In an earlier article he elaborates on this term. In it he follows theories of sound classifications in film by Anahid Kassabian and Michel Chion. Both Kassabian and Chion look for a ‘third’ category outside of diegetic and nondiegetic music in film. Holbrook elaborates on their theories and goes further by proposing a ‘fourth’ category. Kassabian connects diegetic music to ‘realistic depiction’; in Holbrook’s words it is music “tied to the physical location of a scene or the ambience of a .”81 In , nondiegetic music is connected to ‘dramatic development’, thus “tied to nuances of , the significance of thematic ideas, the unfolding of plot structure, or the meaning of events”, according to Holbrook.82 Kassabian mentions a third category of film music that exists in between those polarities, appropriately terming this category as ‘in- between music’. Not satisfied by the vagueness of Kassabian’s classification, Holbrook continues to composer and theorist Michel Chion who also defines a third category. Holbrook notes that Chion is not just concerned with music in film but moreover with sound in general. Chion distinguishes onscreen sound, offscreen sound and nondiegetic sound. The classification of these three depends on other distinctions by Chion. First between acousmatic sound which is defined by Holbrook as “sounds whose sources are absent from the cinematic image”83 and visualized sound, thus sound “accompanied by the sight of its source or cause”.84 The second distinction Chion makes lies between sound internal and sound

80 Holbrook, Morris B. “Ambi‐diegetic Music in the Movies: The Crosby Duets in High Society”. Consumption Markets & Culture, 8:2, 2005, 153-182. 81 Holbrook, Morris B. “A book-review essay on the role of ambi-diegetic film music in the product design of Hollywood movies: macromarketing in la-la-land”. Consumption Markets & Culture, 6:3, 2003, 222. 82 Ibid., 222. 83 Ibid., 222. 84 Ibid., 222.

28 external to the reality of the film’s story world. In combining these categories in various ways, Chion gathers a tripartite sound schematic: onscreen sound is visualized and internal; offscreen sound is acousmatic and internal; nondiegetic sound is acousmatic and external. Holbrook argues that Kassabian and Chion overlook an important fourth type of film music. Logically in Chion’s classification there is the possibility for sound that is visualized and external. This seems of course quite a contradiction in terms. To explain his fourth category Holbrook combines the theories of Kassabian and Chion:

“…the fourth type of film music is produced inside the film’s stream of events in the manner traditionally associated with diegetic music (i.e. what Chion would call “visualized”) but contributes to the film’s dramatic development in the manner traditionally associated with nondiegetic music (i.e. what Chion would call “commemorative” or “subjective”)85. I shall assign this combination of musical categories formerly construed as opposites a new terminological designation – namely, Ambi-Diegetic Music.”86

Thus, by ambi-diegetic music Holbrook means music that originates from a source within the visual story world (internal), but that also shapes the dramatic development of the film (external). As an example he mentions a character performing a song on-screen whose “musical performance sheds light on the character’s motivations or provides associations that identify important aspects of the plot, the setting, or the key thematic ideas.”87 A lot of examples in films are imaginable. Holbrook mentions cases of ambi-diegesis in traditional Hollywood musicals featuring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and in his 2005 article he analyses the musical film High Society, as mentioned above. In analysing the song “How do you solve a problem like Maria” in The Sound of Music a few pages back I stated that ‘for now, I would argue that the fact that they are not aware that they are singing means that their singing in that moment is only meant for the spectator. The singing is helping the spectator in constructing the narrative, but is not heard by the characters, ergo it is extradiegetic.’ In Chion’s terms, extradiegetic means external to the story world. On the other hand the spectator sees the origin of the sound (the singing nuns), which means it is visualized. It also attributes to the dramatic development since the song informs the spectator about the character and unfolds the plot structure. Accordingly, ambi-diegetic seems the right term to classify this song.

85 With these terms Chion means music/sound external to the Story World, as opposed to music/sound internal to the Story World, that he classifies as ‘objective’ or ‘actual’. Holbrook 2003, 223. 86 Ibid., 223. Original emphases. 87 Ibid., 223-224.

29 Concerning opera, I outlined the ambiguous statement by van der Lek who argues that the singing of a character (in the musical film or opera, not concerning an intradiegetic song) is not diegetic but also not nondiegetic. The same goes for the music the orchestra produces in opera, which is different from the soundtrack in movies that is added in the editing room. I discussed how van der Lek plays on this dual quality but that he leaves an exact classification in the middle. How to define these ambiguous elements in the musical film and by extension in opera, that fall in between the polarities of intradiegetic and extradiegetic? I want to argue that this gap can be bridged by Holbrook’s concept of ambi- diegesis. This notion overcomes the polarities found in narratological terms, and helps classify the elements that exist in between, or carry different narratological identities in itself. Before carrying on to the analysis and applying the discussed terms and theories to the case study Madama Butterfly, I will conclude this first chapter by turning to another polarization concerning genre in opera, between the dramatic and the epic.

1.4 narratology in opera: dramatic, epic, dialectic? In the introduction I state that the original opera Madama Butterfly is a dramatic piece, but its 2017 staging by Hotel Pro Forma is not. I propose that in this staging the contrasting of the drama with narrative techniques connects to the Epic theatre as proposed by Brecht. To understand what drama and epic mean in connection to opera, I will discuss two persons as representatives of these genres, respectively composer Richard Wagner (1813- 1883) and director and writer Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). The opera Madama Butterfly shows connection with Wagner’s practice, though its staging seems more akin to Brecht’s theatre. Then how to classify this production by Hotel Pro Forma? How does it fit into these dominant notions of genre in opera? In her book Leitmotiv in Wagner and Brecht, scholar in German Hilda Meldrum Brown researches how the dramatic and the epic are connected to the notion of leitmotiv in the work of Richard Wagner and Bertolt Brecht. For the purpose of this thesis it is interesting to see how Brown reflects upon the two genres of Drama and ‘Epic’. In her introduction she states that there is a polarization of these two modes.88 How did this polarization come into being? Brown starts by quoting semotician Keir Elam, who traces the sharp distinction between drama and narrative back to “Aristotle’s differentiation of representational modes according to diegesis (narrative ) and mimesis (direct

88 Brown 1991, 5.

30 imitation).”89 I have discussed and reflected upon the polarization of diegesis and mimesis before. There seems to be no difference for their connected notions of genre, respectively the epic and the dramatic. Elam notes that the “purposeful organization of structure which we associate with great works of art can in no way be identified with the author himself.”90 By ‘great works of art’ Elam means the art of the drama. In other words, a drama is a work that speaks for itself; the voice of the author should be hidden in order to create a coherent universe through the actions presented. For Elam, the dialogue is the best form of dramatic language, above the more “descriptive language of prologues, epilogues and ad spectatores addresses.”91 In addition to Elam, Brown quotes Peter Szondi, who states in his Theorie des modernen that “drama is Absolute. To be entirely relational, i.e. dramatic, it must be divested of all extraneous elements and to have no knowledge of anything outside itself.”92 Brown summarizes that “any signs of extraneous or genre-alien elements appearing in drama […] must be regarded as deviant.”93 In the context of this thesis I outlined similar views before, like that of Aristotle who prefers the pure mimetic mode. On the other hand the appearance of ‘extraneous or genre- alien elements’ is exactly the case in the epic genre, the one preferred by Aristotle’s contemporary Plato. Brown continues to point out how various writers, like literary scholar Manfred Pfister, have perpetuated the antithetical relation of genres. She wants to explore another point of view that is not based on the polarization of the genres but on what they have in common. Brown discusses Alfred Döblin, a contemporary of Brecht, who argues that “it is complete dogma […] to propose that drama operates exclusively via dialogue: both drama and narrative/epic – and lyric, too for that matter – should incorporate elements of other genres as well, particularly important in all these cases being the authorial perspectives which will raise the ‘iron curtain’ that has been erected between stage and audience, reader and author.”94 Brown discusses Döblin’s appreciation – in contrast to Elam and Szondi – for narrative devices like chorus in drama and even the modern use of cinematographic interpolations. Döblin’s views are easily connected to those of dramatist Bertolt Brecht, who proposed the term ‘Epic theatre’ to describe his theatrical practice. As a reminder and to connect to terms mentioned earlier in this thesis; the genre of drama is connected to diegesis dia mimeseos, as pointed out in Aristotle’s Poetics, when he

89 Elam in Brown 1991, 6. 90 Ibid., 7. 91 Ibid., 6-7. 92 Szondi Theorie des Dramas 1967, 15 in Brown 1991, 10. 93 Ibid., 11. 94 Ibid., 16.

31 describes the art of tragedy: “Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possessing magnitude; […] in the mode of action and not narrated.”95 For the haple diegesis, the pure form of narration, there is not really a common genre connecting to it, which is maybe why it is often left out of discussion, opening up the space for the other two modes to be polarized. Plato mentions the dithyramb as connected to haple diegesis, this form of speech is a narration in which the poet – which was not just a writer but also a performer in Ancient times – does not pretend to be someone else. Maybe the closest contemporary stage-practice would be stand-up comedy, in which the comedian is not to be somebody else (although is probably presenting a better or worse version of her or himself). The third diegetic mode is the mixed one, diegesis di’amphoteron, combining the first two. As mentioned before, Plato and Aristotle used the work of Homer to describe this form, calling this literary style ‘epic’. This is where Brecht got his notion of ‘Epic theatre’, which I will discuss to greater extend below. Brown’s aim is to overcome the polarization of dramatic and epic, since drama carries epic qualities and vice versa. It is interesting to see how she analyses the differences between the dramatic works of Wagner and the epic works of Brecht, who can be seen as opposites at the core of their artistic intentions. I want to shortly direct the attention of this thesis to these two heavyweights in the field of opera to clarify notions of dramatic and epic as to create a foundation for the analysis of Madama Butterfly in the next part. Although Brown does not explicitly mention narratology or considers herself as a narratologist (to my knowledge), her analysis of Wagner and Brecht does prove useful in this context, since she is concerned with a lot of the same themes. Her argument against the polarization of drama and epic connects to my depolarizing view in this thesis.

1.4.1 Wagner Richard Wagner was not only an artist but also an outspoken critic of the art of opera that came before him. He stopped composing for a while to write his analytical work Oper und Drama (1851), in which he states his dissatisfaction with the art form and elaborates on his own ideas. Most importantly he expresses his disappointment with the lack of exploitation of the dramatic potential in opera. Closing his chapter about Mozart, for example, he writes:

“It is only for the history of music in general that Mozart is of such surprisingly weighty significance, for this importance by no means extends to the history of the opera as a

95 Aristoteles 2004, 37.

32 particular department of art. The opera being, in consequence of its unnatural presence not bound for its life to any law of actual necessity, was free to be exploited by the first musical adventurer who might happen to appear.”96

As becomes clear in this last sentence, Wagner saw opera as a dead dramatic corpse, occasionally brought back to life by the breath of some inspired composer who leaves the form lifeless again after going on to express himself in freer ways.97 Wagner also notes his dislike of the commercialism surrounding the art form, when he moves on from Mozart to Rossini:

“It was still due to the world to be told, plainly and straightforwardly, to what artistic aspirations and requirements opera owed its origin and existence; that these aspirations proceeded in no sense from the actual drama; but were simply in favour of the gratification of an intoxicating and superficially disportive enjoyment, merely seasoned by stage appliances; and one not, in any sense, emotional or, inwardly enlivening.”98

In these quotes I want to point out two things that are important for the development of Wagner’s own practice. Firstly he describes the dislocation of the drama from the other elements, most importantly the music. Secondly, his ambition to forge an art form that is ‘emotional or inwardly enlivening’ is palpable. There are a few measures Wagner took to overcome these he saw in the operatic practice. I will turn back to Brown, who elaborates on some of these measures Wagner took in creating his works of art. Brown mentions that the integration of drama and music is one of the main goals Wagner envisioned in achieving his ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’. To emphasize this ambition, and to distinguish his art from the pressing history of his field, he did not call his works opera but simply ‘drama’ – after referred to as ‘music drama’ by successors.99 Brown continues that one of the most revolutionary changes by Wagner is the idea that the orchestra has a vital role to play in the marriage of music and drama. Like the creators of the first operas, Wagner sought after the interdisciplinary form of theatre presented by the ancient Greeks – he studied the works of famous writers such as Aeschylus and .100 Brown mentions that Wagner noted the importance of the need for the composer-dramatist to make his intentions clear to his audience.101 It is important to note here that the ‘intentions

96 Wagner, Richard. Opera and drama. Trans. Edwin Evans. London: Reeves, 1913, 59-60. 97 Ibid., 59. 98 Ibid., 60-61. 99 ‘Music Drama’. Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/art/music-drama. Accessed 8 May 2017. 100 Brown 1991, 41. 101 Ibid., 41.

33 of the composer-dramatist’ in this case are meant as intentions within the artwork, not as political intentions per se – which is the case in Brecht’s intentions for his artwork, as I will discuss in a few pages. The orchestra was the ideal instrument for Wagner in making his intentions clear. It becomes an omnipresent factor whose “main function is coincidental to the dramatic action on the stage.”102 This idea derives from the function of the Chorus in the Greek dramas: to evaluate and comment on events in the drama. Wagner thus saw his orchestra having a very vocal role in the artwork. Brown states that Wagner even saw a bigger role for the orchestra in comparison to the chorus because the orchestra provides a constant flow of commenting upon the action, instead of only interfering in specific moments.103 She analyses that this enables the orchestra to take on a hybrid character; to be simultaneously “integrated into the whole and yet able to oversee it and preside over it with sovereign detachment.”104 Some critics assign this trait to be an epic quality in Wagner’s music dramas, some even go as far as stating that Wagner’s music dramas are epic, its form based on the popular 19th century -form with the orchestra serving as an omniscient narrator.105 This is a view that Brown opposes. In connection to the just stated discussion in terms about epic or dramatic quality of Wagner’s work, it is important to note the composer’s notion of the leitmotiv (which he calls Grundmotiv) as a functional device that derives from within the drama and is fully integrated into the dramatic action. 106 Brown mentions how it creates a structural connection of the drama throughout the piece; something that Wagner found lacking in the work of other composers that came before him.107 Her analysis of the leitmotiv reflects that of the orchestra above. Wagner’s leitmotivs are musical themes that connect to particular elements in the drama. They can happen simultaneously to the action, or serve as memory or omen. This means that the action can be about one thing, but the music can add other layers of emotion or meaning. The leitmotiv constructs a discrepancy between different elements, giving the music its own life and authority next to what is seen on stage. Brown describes how this has often been described as an epic instrument. She elaborates on the dramatic/epic character of the leitmotiv by quoting Wagner’s own definition of the ‘Grundmotiv’ and concluding:

102 Ibid., 41. 103 Ibid., 42. 104 Ibid., 43. 105 Marianne Kesting, Thomas Mann, Dieter Borchmeyer. Brown 1991, 46-48. 106 Ibid., 48. 107 e.g. his rejection of Beethovens Fidelio. Brown 1991, 48.


“Certain key words and images stand out in this wordy ‘definition’: ‘Drama’ and ‘dramatisch’, for instance, the image of the leitmotiv as a pillar supporting an architectural structure; the related motiv conveying the idea of the concretization of physical energy and force; the idea of the economical distribution of these motivs within the whole structure; finally, the omnipresent starting-point for the whole structure: ‘des Dichters Absicht’. None of these endeavours to describe the of the leitmotiv seems to me to correspond to any of the meanings which the term ‘epic’ has acquired, whether in its ‘Homeric’ association with the rambling narrative or in its ‘reincarnation’ in the modern novel of Balzac.”108

Brown makes clear that she opposes the epic quality of the leitmotiv. She argues that Wagner’s leitmotiv is a double-sided aspect, it has a hybrid character in the music drama (like the orchestra that produces it). She describes it in her own terms, stating that on the one hand it provides a disjunctive perspective in the sense that it operates from outside of the stage action. On the other it can be regarded as integrated in the structure and interacts with the stage action on multiple levels. Following her theory the leitmotiv actually embraces a synthesis in between the dramatic and the epic. She does not elaborate on this hybridity, and thus keeps up the problem of polarization instead of overcoming it. This is reminiscent of my discussion on van der Lek and the hybrid position of the orchestra in opera; the notion of ambiguity and the ambi-diegetic could also be helpful in overcoming polarizing terms when describing the leitmotiv. Brown’s approach is a very interesting one and helpful to understand the complex ways in which the leitmotiv works. Although the narrative quality of the leitmotiv is a fact, I agree with Brown that this does not mean that Wagner’s music dramas are ‘epic’ in any way. I would argue that they are a great example of the mimetic tradition rooted in Aristotle’s writings. Wagner follows some very Aristotelian principles, such as the importance of the poet’s intention (‘des Dichters Absicht’, see quote above) and the ‘Handlung’ (action, plot) as a central focus.109 Also, in constructing his ideal theatre in Bayreuth, Wagner made sure that the orchestra was as invisible as possible and that the lights could be dimmed in the audience. In the dark auditorium the audience is not required to read along in the libretto, they simply have to immerse themselves in the world that Wagner serves them. A world constructed by its own language, rules and logic, that only has meaning in itself. This vacuum is not to be disturbed by any elements of the outside world, hence the hiding of all means of production or clarification. It is this closed fiction that produces and perpetuates the leitmotiv-networks that invite an audience to

108 Ibid., 52. 109 Ibid., 53.

35 come closer to this proposed world and dwell in it. It is precisely this ‘bewitching’ quality of theatre – which is the very of Wagner’s work – that Plato rejects. I will now turn to Bertolt Brecht, who seems to share Plato’s concerns and takes on a contrasting point of view to Wagner. How does his practice relate to the polarization of genres and how can his work be analysed?

1.4.2 Brecht If the main goal of Richard Wagner is to create a coherent, ‘whole’ work of art, the aim of Bertolt Brecht seems to be the opposite. He disputes the notion of pure drama, which as we just saw, is the main drive in Wagner’s work. Brecht, like Wagner, theorized his views on theatre. As one of the main bases for Brecht’s theory, Brown mentions the juxtaposition of ‘Trennung’ (separation) versus ‘Verschmelzung’ (merging, or melting down) of the different elements that constitute theatre.110 Though Brecht’s critique might not directly be directed against Wagner, since there is no evidence that he actually read his writings, it is clear that Brecht opposes the idea of the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’. The Gesamtkunstwerk, with the leitmotiv as its instrument, is based on precisely this ‘melting down’ of the elements that Brecht argues against.111 His problem with this ‘total’ work of art is based on the idea of degradation; the whole is less than the sum of its elements. In describing Brecht’s point, Brown states that ‘amalgamation of the component parts necessarily entails loss of their distinctive or distinguishing features […] and that this loss is not compensated for by any counterbalancing enhancement of the end-product.’112 For this reason Brecht advocates for a separation of the elements. In his earlier writings he mentions ‘Wort’, ‘Musik’ and ‘Darstellung’ as the three distinctive elements (word, music and presentation). In his ideal theatre these components work together without losing their specific qualities. In reading texts of Brecht, one has to keep in mind that are never far away. It is reflected in his aesthetic theory as well as in the influence his artwork should have on the spectator. Brown notes Brecht’s vision of a democratic cooperation between the elements in which they are “acting together – and yet at the same time do not sacrifice anything of their individual identity.”113 In his later writings he distinguishes more than just the three main elements mentioned above. The production we see is not only assimilated by word, music and presentation. Brecht now defines a whole range of what he calls ‘sister-arts’

110 Ibid., 93. 111 Ibid., 75. 112 Ibid., 75. 113 Ibid., 76.

36 (Schwesterkünste) as elements that contribute to the making of the end product: the actor, the choreographer, the costume-tailor, etc. all have a common task. To quote Brecht:

“…so let us invite all the sister-arts of drama, not in order to create a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ in which they give in and are destroyed, but so that, along with the drama, they promote the common task in their various ways.”114

The political undertone of this statement, in favour of Brecht’s affiliation with Communism, seems clear. Another level on which Brecht rejects the merging of the different elements is political concerning the state of the spectator. Brown outlines how Brecht states that in melting down the different elements, this process is extended to the spectator, who likewise gets “melted down and becomes a passive (suffering) part of the Gesamtkunstwerk.”115 I would argue that the Platonic idea of the danger of getting immersed into the work of art, of the spectator being bewitched by it, is reflected in this critique of the Gesamtkunstwerk and by extension of Wagner. Where Wagner’s main device for his art is the leitmotiv, Brecht’s practical extension of his ideas is the ‘Verfremdungseffekt’ (alienation effect). 116 The idea for the Verfremdungseffekt is also based in Brecht’s communist thinking. In order to achieve a ‘common task’ the different elements must retain their individual qualities and remain critical towards each other and therefore even be alienated from each other. Because of this, the spectator is unable to immerse himself into the fiction and holds a critical position towards what is seen (and heard). What role does Brecht assign to the music in this context? While every element should be of equal democratic importance, he notes the enhancing effect that music can have on the whole work. In one text Brecht describes its function as “to heighten the total effect.”117 This remark seems not very distant from the function of music within the Gesamtkunstwerk. Brown argues that the underlying intention differs. In Wagner’s works the music serves the whole by intensifying the action. The process of intensification happens via interaction of one ‘element’ upon another. Brown states that in Brecht’s work, the music intensifies not via one element, but on the level of the total piece, achieved by an oppositional relationship of these same elements towards one another. 118 The

114 Brecht 1964, 204. 115 Brown 1991, 75. 116 Brecht 1964, 191-192. 117 Brown 1991, 77. 118 Ibid., 77.

37 Verfremdungseffekt stems from this oppositional attitude: the elements are opposed, even alienated, from one another and thereby enhanced in individual effect. In his earlier works Brecht described his theatrical theory and practice as Epic theatre, an umbrella term for theatre that does not pursue a ‘pure’ dramatic form but invites its audience to employ a critical stance towards what is seen, for example through alienation techniques. Brown elaborates how later in his life, Brecht concedes that the term ‘episches Theater’ is a concept too vague and inadequate for the ordinary theatre. Also he viewed the term epic as “set too rigidly in contrast to the concept of the dramatic.”119 So, Brecht also was aware of, and opposes, the polarization of drama and epic. At the start of discussing Brown’s book, I mentioned that Plato and Aristotle defined the epic as a mixed or alternating mode between the two ‘pure’ modes of mimetic and diegetic. Whereas the drama is a mimetic art form – it is based on representing action – the epic drama is not its polemical counterpart. It is simply, as Plato stated, a mixed mode between the showing and telling of a story, an art form that embodies both dramatic and narrative traits. Generally, as outlined above, the difference between Wagner and Brecht’s views on theatre can be described in narratological terms. The first following a dramatic, integrated principle, the latter concerned with epic, disjunctive methods.

1.5 Concluding Part 1 Although Brown’s analysis is very interesting and I agree with her argument against the polarization of drama and epic, she does not get to the core difference between the two. The key to this difference might be found in the different levels described by Genette that I elaborated on before. Like Brown, I would argue that drama and epic both use the same elements, but state that they are used on different levels. Genette distinguishes the extradiegetic, intradiegetic and metadiegetic levels existing in a story. In light of arguing against a polarization of the genres of drama and epic because they both use the same elements, it might be helpful to analyse on what level these elements exist. As I have discussed, in drama the author/composer should be invisible in the universe presented by his work. Narrative parts are common, but they exist within this coherent universe. Using Genette’s terms; the ‘first’ level, which is always extradiegetic and concerns the author, should be masked in drama. In the intradiegetic level in drama it is always ‘I’, characters are portrayed in the first person; acting not narrating. In turn in the metadiegetic level,

119 Ibid., 69.

38 there is possibility for narrative elements. For example: a prologue or epilogue, a messenger, a chorus, the reading of a letter, the recounting of an event, etc. In the case of Wagner this is clear, he wants to hide the authorial perspective as much as possible. He creates a world that exists in itself and is not concerned with the reality of the audience. The same goes for his leitmotivs that are put in place to strengthen the totality of his dramas. Although the narrative quality of the leitmotiv is obvious, it exists on a metadiegetic level. There is a primacy of drama, so to speak. In ‘epic theatre’ there is no primacy of drama, neither of narrative. The two modes are interchangeable. Dramatic, imitative parts are interrupted by narrative accounts that do not occur on a metadiegetic level, but form an intradiegetic level of their own. These interruptions are not in line with the dramatic continuum but constitute another universe. It is even imaginable that the extradiegetic level, the one of the author, is shown and put on stage. The bottom line is that no coherent illusion is created in which the audience can fully immerse itself. I would argue that the confusion of the term epic lies in its ‘original’ meaning of combining dramatic and narrative elements, because this is the case in both dramatic and epic theatre. The difference between the two can be clarified by the distinction of levels, and on what level the narrative and dramatic parts are situated. One can see why the term ‘epic theatre’ becomes more and more problematic. Because of this false opposition of drama versus epic, Brecht started to favour the term ‘dialectical theatre’ to describe his work later in his career, in line of course with the Marxist theories.120 This term indeed seems more suitable, since it supports the above described methods of every element in the theatrical production keeping their individual traits and thereby strengthen the whole. Also it denotes the dialectical relation that arises between dramatic and narrative parts.

In this first part of my thesis I have described polarizations concerning the categorization of different forms of telling a story. Starting with the ancient Greeks I outlined the distinction between mimesis and diegesis and discussed the opposing views of Plato and Aristotle on the matter. Plato is suspicious about imitation (mimesis) and prefers the mode of telling a story (diegesis), or at least a mixed mode as exemplified in Homer’s Iliad. Aristotle views tragedy as the most desirable form of telling a story, which is based on imitation. In the twentieth century, this distinction is still at play in Genette’s narrative theories. However, Genette complicated the polarization by analysing who is telling a story

120 Halliburton, David. ‘Dialectics of Experience: Brecht and the Theater of Danger. In Dialectic and Narrative, eds. Thomas R. Flynn, Dalia Judovitz. New York: State University of NY Press, 1993, 233.

39 and thereby defining different levels in literature. This opens up the possibility of different layers of narrative being present at the same time. He states that any story only exists by the grace of at least one extradiegetic narrator, who is able to create an intradiegetic and even a metadiegetic level. His notion of focalization, as elaborated on by van den Heuvel-Arad and Bal, also instigates a more complex understanding of different perspectives in telling a story. Bal even introduced the term ambiguous focalization to analyse elements in a story that are not easily defined as being internal or external focalizer, thus overcoming yet another polarization in the field of narratology. After discussing this I turned from the realm of literature to the audio-visual. In film another polarization arises, between diegetic and nondiegetic. I have critiqued this simplification and tried to open it up by connecting it to Genette’s notion of levels. Things become problematic in analysing sound and music in film, on what level does the soundtrack exist? On what level the singing of different characters? This is also a problem in defining music and song in opera. Van der Lek points out that the diegetic versus nondiegetic polarization is not sufficient in analysing some elements of opera. I discussed that the same is true for my preferred terms of extra- intra- and metadiegetic. Thus I introduced Holbrook’s notion of ambi-diegesis, to help analyse those traits in opera of a hybrid character, that are not so easily defined as being mimetic or diegetic, nondiegetic or diegetic, internal or external and that exist in between the different levels coined by Genette. In the last part I turned to another polarization, namely that between drama and epic. Brown notes, like van der Lek, some hybrid qualities in opera such as the music from the orchestra and Wagner’s leitmotiv. Although the genre notions of drama and dialectic are helpful as categories, I outlined how they make use of the same (dramatic and narrative) elements, but on different levels. In the next part I will turn to the opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, and its recent staging by Hotel Pro Forma. The original piece can be described as a dramatic piece; the text and music imply a closed world, namely that of Nagasaki in the nineteenth century, inhabited by made-up characters. It shows a fictional world conceived of by its creators, that follows its own rules and logic. Interestingly in the staging of Hotel Pro Forma, this dramatic piece is contrasted with narrative elements in a way that might imply a transformation of the piece into the realm of the epic, or rather the dialectic. In the following I will analyse this and look at the original piece by Puccini and its staging in 2017 according to the terminology I established in this first part.

40 Part 2. Madama Butterfly

2.1 story and origin In Madama Butterfly the young Japanese girl Cio-Cio-San, also known as Madama Butterfly, is married off to American lieutenant Pinkerton. In the first act their meeting, their marriage and the renunciation of Cio-Cio-San by Butterfly’s religious uncle takes place. It ends with a love duet between the newlyweds on their first night together. At the start of the second act, three years have passed. Pinkerton had to go back to the United States, and had left Cio-Cio-San behind. She has not forgotten about him and is waiting desperately for his return. Then the American consul Sharpless arrives, reading to her a letter from Pinkerton, in which he explains that he is coming back to Japan, but not alone. Sharpless however cannot bear to share this news with Cio-Cio-San, for it would devastate her. Instead he asks her what she would do if Pinkerton would never return. She replies that she could go back to entertaining people for money or, rather, die. When Sharpless is about to leave, she stops him and leaves to another room. She comes back with a child in her arms, the child of her and Pinkerton. She begs Sharpless to tell Pinkerton about their son, so that he might come back. The big waiting starts: Cio-Cio-San, her son and her servant Suzuki prepare for Pinkerton’s return. In the third and last act he returns to his ‘flowery abode’, when Cio-Cio-San is still asleep. He does not come alone, but brings his American wife Kate. When Pinkerton realizes how Butterfly has desperately waited for him he leaves, overcome by guilt. Cio-Cio-San wakes up and meets Kate. She knows what is going on and how Pinkerton betrayed her. Kate asks her to give up her son so they can take him back to the United States, where he would have a better life. Cio-Cio-San responds that she will give her son only to Pinkerton, if he comes and pick him up in half an hour. As everyone leaves she is left alone with her son and reads the inscription on her father’s knife: “To die with honour, when one can no longer live with honour.” She sends her son away to play and commits suicide. Pinkerton arrives just a moment too late and Cio-Cio-San dies in his presence. Puccini got the idea to write Madama Butterfly after seeing David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan in London. In turn, the play is based on Madame Butterfly, a by John Luther Long.121 While the short novel by Long is a narration

121 Kooten, Kasper van. “The Genesis and Dramaturgy of Madama Butterfly”. “Music’s Obedient Daughter” The Opera Libretto from Source to Score. Ed. Lichtenstein, Sabine. Amsterdam – New York: Rodopi, 2014, pp. 269- 296; Long, John Luther. Madame Butterfly. New York: Century Magazine, 1898.

41 by the writer, in the play the story is being told in a dramatic manner. One of the most striking ‘mimetic’ elements of Belasco’s play is the manner of speaking of Butterfly. She speaks English, though with a foreign accent that is spelled out by the author. For example ‘Pinkerton’ is pronounced by her as ‘Pik-kerton’, and she refers to herself as his ‘liddle wive’.122 It is clear what Belasco wants the audience to see and hear; a helpless, fragile Japanese woman to pity. Another element to show the ignorance of Butterfly and to invoke pity in the audience is portrayed by the theme of the robins. Pinkerton told Butterfly that he will be back ‘when the robins nest again’. All those years she is waiting, seeing robins nest year after year, wondering if they maybe nest at other times in Pinkerton’s country. When she commits suicide – a dramatic element added by Belasco, in Long’s version Butterfly wants to commit suicide but stops herself at the sight of her son – Pinkerton finds her and she dies in his arms, uttering: “Too bad those robins didn’ nes’ again.”123 It is this play that Puccini saw in London, in 1900.124 The character of Cio-Cio-San had moved him so much that he instantly decided to write an opera based on her story. On advice of librettist Illica Puccini’s Butterfly sang in proper Italian, not in the deficient language that Belasco wrote for his leading lady.125 Instead of an accent in the language, Puccini studied Japanese music and incorporated some of it into his opera. With the help of Hisako Oyama, the Japanese ambassador’s wife in Rome, he discovered some original Japanese songs whose characteristics can be found throughout Madama Butterfly.126 This was all in fashion with the widespread fascination with the Orient and especially Japan throughout the West. Because the country had recently been opened to the rest of the world since a seclusion that lasted for centuries, its arts and culture were of exotic interest to many artists.127 Puccini’s Madama Butterfly first premiered as an opera in two acts at the Scala in Milano in February 1904. The evening was a disaster, as librettist Giacosa had already predicted.128 The audience started clapping at the wrong times and voiced their discontent with some parts of the music that they recognized from earlier Puccini operas. After this fiasco, Puccini revised the opera and it got its second premiere three months later in

122 Belasco, David. Madame Butterfly A Tragedy of Japan. London: Little, Brown, and Company, 1928. 123 Ibid., 32. 124 Van Kooten 2014, 269. 125 Ibid., 277. 126 Groos, A. ‘Cio-Cio-San and Sadayakko: Japanese Music-Theater in Madama Butterfly’. Sophia University: Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 54, no. 1, spring 1999, 47. 127 A tendency defined as Japonism. 128 Van Kooten 2014, 279-285.

42 Brescia. The opera was now transformed into three acts and became a favourite of the opera audience, which it still is.

2.1.1 the libretto In the first chapter I concluded that Butterfly, like most repertoire operas, is a dramatic piece. However, I have also argued how within the genre of drama, narrative elements can be found. Especially in the written text, the drama, the libretto in this case, the diegetic structures become clear. Firstly there is the title page. In the case of Madama Butterfly there are multiple names on the cover. There is the name of Giulio Ricordi, the famous music-editor from Milan, the librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, the name of Puccini of course and also a reference to John Luther Long and David Belasco. These six people (read: these six white, western men) have shaped the libretto that we are about to read as we turn the page. On the next page there are more names, the ‘dramatis personae’. These are the (fictive) people who will speak in the piece. We read their names and some information about them. Like ‘B.F. Pinkerton, Lieutenant in the United States Navy – tenor’. Because the text is meant for singing, the type of voice necessary for the role is mentioned. Hereafter the dramatic text starts:

PRIMO ATTO Collina presso Nagasaki Casa giapponese, terrazza e giardino. In fondo, al basso, il porto e la città. Goro fa visitare la casa a Pinkerton, che passa di sorpresa in sorpresa.

PINKERTON E soffitto...e pareti...

GORO Vanno e vengono a prova a norma che vi giova nello stesso locale alternar nuovi aspetti ai consueti.129

129 A hill near Nagasaki. A Japanese house, with terraced garden. At back, below, the harbour and the city. Goro is showing the house to Pinkerton, who goes from one surprise to another. PINKERTON And ceiling… and walls... GORO Go back and forth at will, so that you can enjoy from the same spot different views to the usual ones.

43 In italics some information about the whereabouts is written. We read in what place to imagine the words that are about to be spoken by the characters. Then, in the familiar dramatic fashion, the name of character whose voice we hear and after what it is he is saying. All of this frames our imagination, fills in some gaps to shape the world in which the reader has to imagine the spoken sentences. A lot of con-text frames the actual text that is meant to be spoken. Because of the layout of the text, the reader knows what is what. He knows what to read ‘in his head’ and what to read ‘out loud’. In a way the text itself takes on different shapes or identities, is performative. Like in The Neverending Story, mentioned in the first chapter, it is not only the words we read that construct the story, but also how we read them. In Plato’s terms, not just logos, but moreover lexis that shapes the text, even before it is actually performed. As I have outlined before, lexis can be divided into simple diegesis, diegesis through mimesis and mixed diegesis. In the libretto the simple diegesis – the names of the characters, stage directions – frames diegesis through mimesis. In turn, within the mimetis, diegetic parts can be found. On the page these structures are clearer than on the stage. On the title page the names of the ones responsible are mentioned and because of the diegetic framework, the reader knows it is a fabricated story. On the stage these frameworks often get lost. We only see the mimetic part. The author(s) become(s) invisible and we are easily tricked into accepting that it is actually Butterfly, actually Pinkerton telling us their story. This is what Plato warns us about in mimesis, it’s easy to mistake the imitation for the real thing. In most opera stagings, the diegetic structure that is clear in the libretto, is covered as much as possible to create a world of fiction for the audience to immerse oneself in. But before continuing to the implications for the staging of a libretto, I want to note some other diegetic features in the original work by Puccini.

2.2 narrative in the libretto and music of Madama Butterfly I just discussed the diegetic structures of the libretto of Butterfly in a more formal way. I made a distinction between the ‘simple diegetic’ text in which the narrator’s voice is clearly speaking, and the ‘diegesis through mimesis’ or mimetic parts. This is covering the broad diegetic framework of the piece. However, as I mentioned, within the mimetic part of the libretto there are also diegetic instances to be found. One of the most obvious examples is the ‘letter scene’ in the second act. The consul, Sharpless, received a letter from Pinkerton concerning Madama Butterfly. He visits her and reads the

44 letter out loud. In the libretto this metadiegetic level is made clear through the use of marks:

SHARPLESS "Amico, cercherete quel bel fiore di fanciulla... "130

Sharpless becomes the narrator of Pinkerton’s words. Butterfly herself does something of the same sorts when she is putting up a mini- play for Sharpless, Goro and Yamadori, the rich prince who comes to ask for her hand in marriage. Butterfly states that she is still married to Pinkerton and cannot divorce him so easily because of the laws of ‘her’ country, the United States, which are stricter than the marriage laws in Japan. She performs a little conversation between an American judge and a husband, bored with his wife:

BUTTERFLY Là un bravo giudice serio, impettito dice al marito:

"Lei vuol andarsene? Sentiam perché?" "Sono seccato del coniugato." E il magistrato: "Ah, mascalzone, presto in prigione."131

This mini-play is supported by the melody, which is a bit lower than the voice Butterfly usually sings in. Also the difference between judge and husband is noticeable in rhythm. It is even common use for the singer to change the voice a little bit, a bit more nasal for the husband and deeper for the judge, for example.132 Already in these two short examples, we see that the mimetic and the diegetic are always somehow intertwined with each other and not a simple dichotomy of two entirely different things. As shortly pointed out above, not only the text but also the music supports the diegetic structures of the piece. It is after all an opera. To start with a broader look at the

130 SHARPLESS "My dear friend, will you go and see that pretty flower of a girl... " 131 BUTTERFLY There, a good judge, grave and upright, says to the husband: "You want to go away? Let us hear why?" "I'm bored with married life!" And the magistrate: "You rascal, into prison with you, quick!" 132 Hear for example the recording conducted by Von Karajan, 1974.

45 score, Puccini implemented a lot of Japanese vocabulary in the music. As mentioned above, with the help of Hisako Oyama he discovered some original Japanese songs whose characteristics can be found throughout Madama Butterfly. There has been a lot of discussion about Puccini’s intentions in using those characteristic melodies. Some argue Puccini wanted to create a truthful Japanese setting through the use of this music. Others note the meaning of the Japanese songs and the dramaturgical reasons why Puccini uses them in several instances. And then there are the critics that stress the use of the melodies as “a manifestation of musical orientalism, a Western, privileged depiction of musically and culturally foreign and inferior Others.”133 Putting aside this interesting and valuable discussion for now, what purpose do these melodies serve in terms of the narrative? Like the context in the libretto, they serve as information. It is, in a way, the musical equivalent of “Collina presso Nagasaki. Casa giapponese, terrazza e giardino…” It provides the reader (listener) with some information on the whereabouts of the story. Zooming in, the specific musical references are also used to complement the narrative. It is not only Japanese music that Puccini uses; there is also a lot of reference to American music. The narrative of Japan versus United States is clearly present in the music. Especially references to the anthem of the United States, “Star-Spangled Banner”, are used a lot throughout the piece. One moment in which the narrative support of the music becomes very clear is just before the ‘mini-play’ I mentioned above. When Butterfly sings:

BUTTERFLY La legge giapponese... non già del mio paese.

GORO Quale?

BUTTERFLY Gli Stati Uniti.134

The contrast between ‘giapponese’ and ‘Stati Uniti’ in the text is complemented by the music. The first strophe of this fragment is set to the music of the Japanese anthem

133 Hara, Kunio. Puccini’s use of Japanese melodies in Madama Butterfly. University of Cincinnati: Division of Research and Advanced Studies, 2003, 2-3. 134 BUTTERFLY The Japanese law... not that of my country now. GORO Which country? BUTTERFLY The United States.

46 “Kimigayo” that morphs into the American anthem by the time she reaches the last strophe “Gli Stati Uniti.”135 At other instances the Japanese music is used throughout the opera as a sort of omen. For example the strong melody of the Japanese song “Suiryo-Bushi” is used to bring the curtain down in the final scene of Butterfly’s suicide. The haunting, decisive melody is already used in earlier moments in the opera. For example, when Butterfly speaks about the death of her father, a subject suitable for the melody. The narrative quality of this motive is even clearer when it contrasts the text. Butterfly’s lovable “Amore mio” when she first meets Pinkerton, is contrasted by the stark tones of this song.136 It is used as a sort of echo from the future; in the music we already hear that something will go wrong. Interestingly the text of the original Japanese song translates into “Joy of meeting, Sorrow of parting. If only there were just meeting, and no parting.”137 Though this text is used nowhere by Puccini, it cannot be a coincidence that this specific melody comes back at moments of meeting and parting in the opera. Of course, this is information that the regular audience-member will not be aware of. This serves just to illustrate how many diegetic levels there can be to a certain moment in music and text. The more knowledge, the more narrative qualities the music unveils. After this short reflection on diegesis in the original score, I will now turn to the main focus of this analysis, namely the staging of Madama Butterfly by Hotel Pro Forma.

2.3 staging In the introduction I mentioned the most remarkable element in Hotel Pro Forma’s 2017 production of Madama Butterfly; the doubling of the protagonist. On the front-stage there is the singer, appearing like an old, ghostly woman (to which I will refer as the storyteller). On the stage behind her we see Puccini’s opera, with a puppet portraying ‘his’ Butterfly. It is like we see the original opera, left (almost) untouched, embedded in another performance. In this part I will describe this production in terms of Genette’s levels and by the notion of focalization, finally turning to ambi-diegesis. I will start with a general look at the whole, and gradually zoom in on certain key moments in the performance, like a ‘silent

135 The Japanese anthem Kimiyago is based on a poem by an unknown author and composed in 1880. Interestingly, in terms of Orientalism, the Japanese government commisioned Western composers Franz Eckert and John Willliam Fenton to compose it. Hebert, David G. Wind bands and cultural identity in Japanese schools. Springer, 2014, 52-53. 136 “Ieri son salita tutta sola..” von Karajan, 1974. 137 Powils-Okano, Kimiyo. ‘Puccini’s Madama Butterfly’. Orpheus: Schriftenreihe zu Grundfragen der Musik, 44. Bonn: Verlag für Systematische Musikwissenschaft, 1986, 57.

47 scene’ implemented by Pro Forma and the repetition of Butterfly’s aria “Un bel dí vedremo”.

2.3.1 diegetic levels in Madama Butterfly Concerning different levels in the first chapter there are four main categories: intradiegetic and extradiegetic, and homodiegetic and heterodiegetic. I discussed how every narration always needs an extradiegetic narrator. In the case of Madama Butterfly, originally Puccini and his librettists are the extradiegetic narrators. They are also heterodiegetic since they are not part of the narration itself. As we have seen, this is connected to the notion of drama, in which the author is conventionally as invisible as possible. In a staging, any staging, one could state that another extradiegetic author is added, the director. On the stage the audience sees a director’s take on Puccini’s opera. Conventionally the director will shape the opera with set design, costumes, lighting and the general ‘mise-en-scène’. This influences the way the story is perceived by the audience. Over the history of the piece Butterfly has worn a lot of different kimonos. Recently, very rare footage of Maria Callas’ performance in Madama Butterfly (1955) has been rediscovered. It shows the legendary singer in a flowery kimono, with Pinkerton beside her in his typical white U.S. Navy costume.138 Less conventional takes on the story have also been produced. The most famous one in ‘recent’ years is Robert Wilson’s take on the opera (premiered in 1993). It shows the repertoire opera in his typical style of austerity and minimalism, the singers dressed and positioned in an architectural manner, moving with distinct slowness and gesture.139 Hotel Pro Forma’s staging is akin to that of Robert Wilson, with director Kirsten Dehlholm also coming from visual and architectural points of view.140 But even Wilson’s staging, however unconventional, still only shows the story conceived by Puccini and collaborators in 1904. Like any director he shapes and visualizes the piece, he ‘narrates’ it with his voice. He alters how the story is told, but not what is told. In that way the director of Butterfly, or of any repertoire opera for that matter, is often just a mouthpiece for the original makers. This is different in Pro Forma’s staging which alters the how as well as the what. Although textually and musically we hear Puccini’s narrative, we see Dehlholm’s narrative. She becomes a true heterodiegetic-extradiegetic narrator, telling her story visually, to complement and even contradict Puccini’s opera. Her diegetic ‘instrument’ is the singer in front of the stage, the storyteller. Although she sings the part of

138 Verstraete, Alexander. ‘Uniek: bewegende beelden van Maria Callas in “Madama Butterfly” opgedoken’. De Redactie, 11 may 2017. 139 Quadri, Franco, Franco Bertoni, and Robert Stearns. Robert Wilson. New York: Rizzoli, 1998. 140 Wilson has been an inspiration for Dehlholm. http://www.kunstonline.dk/profil/kirsten_dehlholm.php

48 Puccini’s Butterfly, she performs a new part, conceived by Hotel Pro Forma: a hundred- year-old Butterfly, recounting her story. This staging of Madama Butterfly defies the original hierarchy of narrative levels. Conventionally Puccini and his writers are the extradiegetic narrators, together with the director. They create the intradiegetic world of the opera, with its characters and their action. In turn those characters can become narrators themselves, of a metadiegetic level, for instance in the letter scene I described previously. In Hotel Pro Forma’s staging another level is added, in between the extradiegetic and the intradiegetic level. The character of the storyteller is first of all intradiegetic: she is a fictional character of the ghost of Butterfly conceived of by the extradiegetic narrator Kirsten Dehlholm. This character becomes however also simultaneously a narrator, not (only) in words but in her actions. It is through her that we see Puccini’s opera, which in this case fully exists in the metadiegetic level. The narratological level of the letter scene would then be even one category below that. It should be noted that Genette’s levels prove to be insufficient here, as within the metadiegetic there appear to be multiple levels. Could this be considered then as meta- metadiegetic? Or maybe subdiegetic? There are a few elements that constitute the predominant role of the storyteller. First of all, looking at the performance from an architectural point of view, it is no coincidence that the storyteller has her own square meter of podium, separated from the main stage. It is positioned not only in front of all the other action we see, it is also positioned in between the audience and the stage. This makes clear that her world is neither here nor there, she exists somewhere in the middle. Secondly, as I mentioned in my introduction, it is not Puccini’s music that starts the performance; it is the storyteller. She walks in silence from the back of the stage towards her podium, carrying her kimono. Once she steps on the podium, the conductor swings his baton and the music starts. During the overture we see her putting on her robe, getting ready to tell her story. It is clear that first of all we see her story, which includes Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. In a way this staging is reminiscent of The Neverending Story, it is a story in a story. But because we are concerned here with theatre and not with text, this opens up a lot of possibilities. Where text can only show one thing at a time – only red or blue – a staging can show multiple levels simultaneously. Since the storyteller does not leave the front of the stage, she continuously controls the staging. The audience is constantly aware of her. Interestingly, the Butterfly ‘in’ her story, her younger, alive self, is portrayed by a puppet, which brings some connotations for this analysis. First of all the puppet does not sing. Next to that it moves by the grace of three puppeteers, dressed all in black, with their faces

49 covered. Since the puppet has no voice or will of its own, it becomes clear that the storyteller that controls it. Or rather, she controls the puppeteers that in turn move the puppet. I will get reflect upon this, dramaturgically interesting, use of the puppet later on. Next to the puppet, the storyteller also controls a group of dancers, the ninjas that for example carry out some changes in scenery or figure as prop to help portray her story. Next to the storyteller walking in silence at the beginning of the performance, there are more moments where it is clear that she has her own performance and constitutes her authority, separate from Puccini’s music. I will shortly discuss what I call the ‘Silent scene’ and the ‘Fontana scene’ as two important and special moments in this staging.

Silent scene In between act one and two, Hotel Pro Forma implemented a scene, a visual scene that has nothing to do with Puccini’s opera, but everything with the performance of the storyteller. The audience just saw the big love duet at the end of the first act. Interestingly in this staging, the two singers of the duet are in a different universe. Pinkerton is singing in the storyteller’s memory. Although musically their worlds collide, visually there is no contact between the two. The puppet portrays the sentimental emotions of the storyteller remembering this ‘happy’ night, by flying around over the stage. This duet closes the first act in the original opera (the Brescia version). In act two, three years have passed and we see Butterfly discussing her faith with Suzuki, now that Pinkerton has been gone for a long time. It is in between those two scenes that Pro Forma implemented a moment of silence. What happens in this silence is best described as metalepsis; the ‘contamination’ of one diegetic level by another. All characters have left the stage and only the puppet remains. In an interesting ‘reversal of power’ the puppet beckons to the storyteller to join her on stage. Big colourful paper pillars come down from above and smoke is produced on the ground. The storyteller steps on the stage and walks as it were in her own memory. She follows the puppet for a while before they both sit down in the middle of the stage. After sitting there for a while, the storyteller whispers something in the ‘ear’ of the puppet and walks back to her podium. When she arrives, the music of the second act starts. The second act, which starts portraying Butterfly’s ‘horrible fate’, all the way to her suicide at the end of act three. The silent scene can be read as a sort of comforting moment, where the storyteller tries to console the young girl in her memory, herself actually. As if she is trying to give the puppet and herself the courage to carry on telling this story, however painful it may be. This is the only moment in the performance that is ‘metaleptic’. For the rest, the storyteller remains strictly in her own realm.

50 Fontana scene The Fontana scene owes its name to the twentieth century visual artist Lucio Fontana. One of his most famous artistic experiments is known as Conzetto Spatiale - Attese. It is a performance act in which the artist slashes a monochrome canvas with a knife. The works Fontana created are collected under the name Tagli (cuts).141 In the Manifiesto Blanco (1946) he advocates against pictorial visual art, rejecting its ‘speculative’ and ‘false’ aesthetic. Fontana wants to go beyond the realm of the silent, two-dimensional art and combine science, visual and movement in the artwork. The manifesto ends with the words “Colour Sound Movement.”142 These three qualities are present in producing the Tagli. The artist stands before the canvas with a knife and in a decisive immediate act he cuts the screen with it, opening up the flat surface to the space behind it. Instead of illusionary perspective in pictorial painting, that makes it look like there is space behind the painting, he shows the audience the real space behind the surface, thereby rejecting the artificiality of representational art (what Fontana also calls ‘plastic art’).143 Also, like any performance act, it is concerned with the ‘now’, the cutting of the screen is stressing the present. In Madama Butterfly (2017) this performance act is repeated. During the “Coro a bocca chiusa” (Humming Chorus) at the end of the second act, the audience sees the puppet and Suzuki sitting and waiting for the return of Pinkerton. The storyteller is sitting stoically on her podium, gazing into the audience. After the chorus, there is a musical intermezzo to start the third act. The storyteller takes out a knife, and plays with it. To those who are familiar with the story of Butterfly, this moment is a memory of her committing ‘seppuku’; ritual suicide by cutting herself in the neck. We have however not arrived at this moment in the story. But since the storyteller is Madama Butterfly, reliving her tragic fate, the knife portrays the inevitability of her death. As the music continues, two ‘ninjas’ carry a big white screen onto the front of stage and hold it in the middle. The storyteller leaves her podium and walks along the rim of the stage in front of the screen. She mimics the act of seppuku with the knife, hesitates for a moment and then, in a moment of pure rage, she turns to the white canvas and slashes it multiple times. The slashes reveal a little of the space behind the screen, where the puppet and Suzuki remain waiting all this time.

141 See: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/fontana-spatial-concept-waiting-t00694. 142 “Color Sonido Movimiento” Fontana, Lucio, et al. Manifiesto Blanco. Milano: Galleria Edizione Apollinaire, 1966. 143 Ibid.

51 There are multiple analytic statements to be made about this moment. First of all, the performance act, stressing the ‘here and now’ by cutting the screen, is against the grain of the dramatic opera. In a way the original opera can be seen as the plastic art Fontana rejects in his manifesto. Through this contemporaneous act, it is clear that the storyteller functions in the present time, she is ‘really here’ unlike the dramatic opera we see evolving as her memory. Secondly, the rage of the storyteller when cutting the screen can be interpreted in different ways. Dramatically, she could be upset about her tragic fate that we are about to see in her memory. She shows her anger about why she had to die and what for. In a broader sense the slashing of the picture also shows the storytellers’ anger of her story being represented time after time again. One of the premises for Dehlholm in this staging seems to be to give the story back to Butterfly. That is why it is not Puccini who tells us the story (as an extradiegetic narrator), but Butterfly herself, coming back to tell us her story and show us how she feels about it. She is given the authority to comment on her story that has been conceived of by some Italian men, unable to know her emotions. In this case Dehlholm is the extradiegetic narrator, interpreting the feelings of Butterfly, which can be critiqued in its own right of course. In the context of this thesis I analyse this moment as a critique on this opera specifically by the storyteller, who embodies the ideas of Dehlholm, and by extension as a critique on opera in general. It seems Dehlholm wants to apply Fontana’s critique of visual art into the realm of opera staging, which is often just a pictorial re-staging of the original story, without the ability of self-criticism. With this scene Dehlholm tears apart the boundaries of the closed dramatic universe presented by the opera, and open it up for discussion and reflection.

2.3.2 ambiguous focalization in Madama Butterfly Following these past paragraphs, it is clear that Hotel Pro Forma added an interesting element to Puccini’s opera also in terms of focalization: the storyteller. In the previous chapter I outlined Genette’s threefold distinction between narratives of zero, internal and external focalization. Since the storyteller is Butterfly herself, albeit as a revenant, and it is her story we see, she is a part of the narrative thus not an external focalizer. The storyteller knows more than the characters, since she produces them as part of her narration. In this sense Genette’s term of ‘zero focalization’ applies. On the other hand, since the storyteller is a character in her own story – she is still Madama Butterfly – captured in her narration, in which case ‘internal focalization’ is more correct. Genette’s focalizing terminology seems too limited to describe the complexity of this staging. As Mieke Bal argued, it is only concerned with the relation between narrator and character. In her terms she distinguishes

52 between the focalizer and the focalized. This brings some more clarity. The point from which the elements are viewed is clear; the storyteller is the focalizer in this staging. Since we see her memory, we look at the story through her eyes. But where is the focalizer located? The same problem I described in Genette’s terminology arises in Bal’s theory, namely whether the focalizer is internal or external to the story. However, Bal provided us with a solution for this problem, stating that a focalizer can be both internal and external to a story and proposed the term ‘ambiguous focalization’.144 The storyteller shows some similarities to the character of Harold in A little life, that I mention in the first chapter. I argued that he is both an internal and external focalizer, thus an ambiguous focalizer, which is noticeable in language by the use of ‘I’ in combination with the past tense. In this case however, I am discussing a staging, not a text. The storyteller is still singing Puccini’s melodies and uses ‘I’ and the present form, in the original dramatic fashion. However, her place on the podium and her actions, also her connection to the puppet make it clear that she is in a different time than the one presented on the stage. Different than in a textual medium, this ambiguity is a continuum. The audience is constantly presented with different times, focalized by the storyteller. She is continuously embodying the ambiguity between the present and the past, thus can be defined as an ambiguous focalizer.

2.3.3 music and the voice in Madama Butterfly As I have mentioned several times now, the storyteller is the singer. She sings the melodies of Cio-Cio-San, the text of the original libretto, which constitutes a dramatic and closed universe, reminiscent of the dramatic pieces by Wagner that also constitute and follow their own logic. The storyteller however is separated from this dramatic universe. Only her voice exists in the drama, embodied by a puppet that carries out the dramatic gestures implied in the libretto. In the first chapter I discuss the awareness of a character in relation to their singing. In the musical film, as well as in the opera, the character seems to be singing consciously at times and unconsciously at other times. In other words, sometimes the character is really singing in his or her universe, at other times just speaking (although the audience perceives it as singing). In the original piece there are not many moments of awareness. The characters are constantly singing as if they were speaking normally with each other. There are a few moments in which the characters seem to hear the same thing as the audience. The clearest moment is the “cannone del porto”, a cannon shot that introduces the return of Pinkerton to Nagasaki. This shot is however not

144 van den Heuvel-Arad 2011, 22.

53 portrayed in the music, but Puccini writes in his score that an actual cannon shot should be heard.145 There are some parts in which it could be debatable whether or not the character is singing – for example the ‘lullaby’ Butterfly ‘sings’ to her son146 – but in general the characters remain unaware of the music. In this staging this is different. Although the storyteller sings every note like any Butterfly-singer would do, I would argue that she is aware of the music and her singing. First of all, as I mentioned before, she starts the music. She seemingly has the control over the music and decides when it starts. This is also obvious in the Silent scene; the music waits for her to be back on her podium to carry on with her story. Secondly, she controls the ninjas; the dancers dressed in black. They facilitate her memory, moving to the music and thus hearing it. Next to this Hotel Pro Forma applied one other change to the score. In the middle of the performance there is a break, a pause for the audience to stretch their legs and get a drink. The break is placed right after Butterfly’s famous aria “Un bel dì vedremo”, just after the beginning of the second act. When the audience comes back after the break the curtain rises and, like at the beginning, the storyteller comes walking from the back of the stage towards her podium. This time however she is not silent but repeats the last verses of “Un bel dì vedremo”, a capella, without the orchestra making any sound. For the last phrase she steps onto her podium again and the orchestra starts playing with. In this moment it is clear that the orchestra does not command the storyteller, it is the other way around. However, one could argue that she is a sort of slave to the music, since she seems unable to say/sing anything else than what Puccini wrote for her, though her actions tell us that she is at least aware of this. This is an interesting observation in light of van der Lek’s argument about the diegetic status of opera music. In the previous chapter I quoted him, stating that opera music is not extradiegetic. Although it is not part of the action, it also does not exist outside of the action. It exists in a sort of in-between level, which connects to the notion of ambi- diegesis as I argued in the first chapter. In this staging the diegetic level of the music has shifted. It is not ambi-diegetic anymore; its place in the diegetic hierarchy becomes clear. Since the storyteller is in control of the music, as I just argued, the music becomes her instrument of narration, placing it a level ‘below’ her, making it exist on a metadiegetic

145 “Colpo di cannone sulla scena” Puccini, Giacomo. Madama Butterfly. Full score. Milan: G. Ricordi, 1907, p. 336. 146 BUTTERFLY Dormi, amor mio, dormi sul mio cor. Tu se con Dio, ed io col mio dolor. A te i rai degli astri d’or, bimbo mio dormi. (Sleep, my love, sleep on my heart. You are with God, and I’m with my sorrow. On you shine the rays of the golden stars, sleep, my child.)

54 level. I would argue however that the ambi-diegetic did not disappear, but takes place within the storyteller.

2.4 ambi-diegesis in Madama Butterfly Morris Holbrook defined ambi-diegesis in terms of sound as originating in the visualized aria of a film, but contributing to the world external to the film; helping to structure the plot, to develop the drama, and such. Holbrook is of course analysing song in film, not opera. I took the notion of ambi-diegesis into the realm of opera in discussing van der Lek’s problem in defining ‘opera music’. Since this is neither entirely diegetic, nor entirely nondiegetic, its position is rather ambiguous, thus I stated the term ambi-diegetic might be appropriate to classify this music. In this case the term is taken outside of the realm of film, but still applied to sound. Now I will broaden this term to help analyse the narratological position of the storyteller in Madama Butterfly. Above I outlined how the position of the opera music in Butterfly shifts from being ambi-diegetic to metadiegetic, since it is used and controlled by the storyteller and therefore not of mysterious ambiguous quality, but a clear narrative instrument. The storyteller takes the place of the opera music, which places this music a narrative level below her. She is now in control of the music by taking its ambiguous place in the hierarchy. Because of this, the storyteller herself becomes an ambi-diegetic element. There are a few arguments to support this claim. The first one is visual; the position of the storyteller on the stage. I described how she is placed on a small podium in between the stage and the audience. In this way she is literally placed in an ambiguous position; she is not really part of the actual staging but also does not belong to the realm of the audience. This is a very literal way of how ‘the architecture of this performance is constructed to generate meaning’; the definition of dramaturgy by Turner and Behrndt that I mention in the introduction. The ambiguous position of the storyteller not only becomes clear visually, by means of architecture, but also in a disjunction between her voice and her body. I described how the storyteller’s voice sings the melodies of Butterfly written by Puccini; her voice is part of the original opera visible on the stage behind her. If one would close one’s eyes during the performance, it would (almost) sound like a conventional staging of Puccini’s opera. Opening ones eyes however, it is visible that her body is in a different world. Her body does not act with the lines she sings in a dramatic way; this task is carried out by the puppet. For example, this becomes clear when Butterfly introduces herself to Pinkerton in the first act.

55 She shows him some of her personal belongings, like her pipe, a mirror and a fan. This moment starts with the following lines in the libretto:

BUTTERFLY Signor B. F. Pinkerton, perdono... Io vorrei...pochi oggetti da donna...

PINKERTON Dove sono?

BUTTERFLY Sono qui...vi dispiace? (Tira fuori gli oggetti dalle maniche del suo kimono.)

PINKERTON O perché mai, mia bella Butterfly?

BUTTERFLY Fazzoletti. La pipa. Una cintura. Un piccolo fermaglio. Uno specchio. Un ventaglio.147

The storyteller sings these lines, but it is the puppet – mastered by the puppeteers – that carries out the stage direction of taking objects from her sleeve to show them to Pinkerton. The storyteller just produces the words, but remains still and stoic on her podium. Her body does not act out the story dictated by Puccini and his librettists, but a new performance, conceived of by Hotel Pro Forma. Different narratives are simultaneously embodied by the storyteller, which brings my to the third argument: time. Not only does the storyteller embody different narratives, but also different times. The words she sings exist in the original opera, that serves as her memory. In her body and presence however, it becomes clear that she is not the young Butterfly whose words she sings. She looks like an old, ghostly woman with grey hair and a pale skin. This signifies that she embodies her past, vocally, and the present, physically. Moreover than embodying the present, she presents us with eternity. She is the deceased Butterfly, coming back to tell

147 BUTTERFLY Mr. B. F. Pinkerton, excuse me... I would like.. a few woman's possessions... PINKERTON Where are they? BUTTERFLY They're here...you don't mind? (She produces various small objects from the capacious sleeves of her kimono.) PINKERTON Why ever should I, my pretty Butterfly? BUTTERFLY Handkerchiefs. Pipe. A sash. A little clasp. A mirror. A fan.

56 her story. Will she find redemption? Will she ever find peace? This is stressed by the ending of the performance. The death of Butterfly is in this staging portrayed by the three puppeteers, slowly laying the puppet on the stage and walking away. The puppet has been moved by the puppeteers the whole performance. By moving it, the puppeteers induced life in this dead object. Laying her on the ground and leaving her, ‘she’ becomes ‘it’ again; lifeless on the floor. Pinkerton rushes in to end Puccini’s opera by crying out ‘Butterfly’ three times before the curtain falls. This curtain fall stresses the separation of the storyteller to her memory, because it falls right in between the stage and her podium. The storyteller has been watching herself die, but does not die again herself. She simply remains on her podium, again stoically. She did not find peace after her death, but seems eternally stuck in between life and death. Based on the (architectural) place of the storyteller in this staging, the disjunction of her voice and body, and her embodiment of different times I argue that she can be analysed as an ambidiegetic element. By this statement I broaden Holbrook’s term ‘ambi- diegesis’ to the realm of opera performance and in extension dramaturgy. It proved to be a helpful term in defining those elements in the performance of opera that are not easily placed in one, clear narrative level. By adding the storyteller, Hotel Pro Forma embodied the ambiguity that is connected to repertoire opera. Through the ambiguous storyteller the repertoire opera is questioned: why is this opera performed now? Why do we want to see this story? Can this opera still be performed? Whose story is represented? These questions are often answered: because ‘the music is beautiful’, because ‘it is a favourite of the audience’, because ‘it is really relevant to our time’.148 This staging of Madama Butterfly by Hotel Pro Forma asks these questions without trying to give one simple answer to it. Then, how to categorize this staging in terms of genre? What kind of staging is it? Can it be defined in terms of dramatic or epic/dialectic? I will now investigate how this staging fits into these classifications of genre.

148 On a reflective note: the ‘relevance to our time’ seems at times forced onto a popular repertoire opera. For example in the 2015 staging of Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck, 1893) by Lotte de Beer for De Nationale Opera in Amsterdam (december 2015, see: http://www.operaballet.nl/nl/opera/2015-2016/voorstelling/hansel-und- gretel). The story of the two poor kids, being kidnapped by an evil witch was connected in this staging to kids growing up in the slums of big cities in Brazil. At the end of the opera Hänsel and Gretel are freed and happily reunited with their parents. The curtain falls, the audience applauds, the singers take their bows. But what happened to the kids in Brazil? The director comes to the front of the stage and asks the audience to be silent. She states that although there is a happily ever after for Hänsel and Gretel, this is not always the case for the kids in Brazil; to help them the audience can donate money when leaving the theatre. Does this make the opera relevant? Apart from the noble intentions, is the statement by the director anything other than an apologetic one? Showing the inability of the staging to connect to relevant issues in the present?

57 2.5 Madama Butterfly: dramatic, epic, dialectic? Throughout this thesis I suggested that this staging of Madama Butterfly is not dramatic, as conventionally would be the case, and implied that it might be regarded as a dialectic piece. I will use the term dialectic rather than epic at this point, since it seems more precise to describe the kind of theatre Brecht proposed. After the analysis in this second chapter I think it can still safely be concluded that this staging indeed is not dramatic. Thus, can this staging be classified as dialectic? As discussed in the first chapter, dialectic theatre is based on an interplay between drama and narrative. The continuum of the dramatic, coherent universe is interrupted by narrative elements that keep the spectator from getting immersed in the illusion presented on the stage. Those elements are described by Brecht as ‘Verfremdungseffekten’.149 One might argue that the splitting of the dramatic character of Madama Butterfly, into a storyteller and a puppet, could be regarded as a significant Verfremdungseffekt. Literally because the dramatic ‘one’ becomes a dialectical ‘two’. Next to this, the appearance of a mute puppet as protagonist in an opera, is immediately alien to the genre. Also because the puppet is constantly steered by three puppeteers, it is hard to get immersed in her story or identify with it, since the ‘means of production’ of her movements is constantly visible. However mimetic and life-like its performance, the spectator is constantly reminded of looking at a dead object. Moments like the Silent scene or the repetition of ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ could also be viewed as elements breaking with the and therefore as signifiers for the dialectic. Although in this staging some dialectical traits can be recognized, I would argue that it should not be classified as dialectic theatre, at least not in the way Brecht and accordingly Brown define it. Firstly I make this statement because of the structure of this staging. In dialectic theatre, dramatic and narrative parts alternate; it is one thing or the other. In Madama Butterfly I recognize a certain continuum. As I wrote before, when one closes one’s eyes, it sounds (almost) like the original piece, but seeing it alters the way the piece is perceived. The difference is constant. Which brings me to my second point; textually there are no alternations. The audience hears the conventional dramatic progression. However, visually there are different times and universes presented continually during the performance, embodied by the storyteller. Through the insertion of the puppet-storyteller duality and the shuffle in narrative levels that follows, the dramatic universe is given a performative accompaniment. A continuous element that raises

149 Brecht 1964, 191-192.

58 awareness of the present and that provides a different viewpoint. The original opera is not broken down but is itself merely an element in the performance; it loses its primacy. This echoes the notion of the postdramatic as proposed by German scholar Hans- Thies Lehmann, which describes a theatre rid of the primacy of drama, with all the imaginable elements acting on the same hierarchic level (parataxis).150 Lehmann mentions how postdramatic theatre is different from dialectic [epic] theatre, since text is still a dominant factor in the latter.151 In the postdramatic theatre the text is not the leading element anymore, there is no longer a primacy of drama. Because the storyteller uses the drama of Madama Butterfly as an illustration of her memory it is placed a level below her, thus loosing its primacy. The drama is merely one tool for the storyteller to convey her own narrative, next to other elements such as her position on the stage and her movements. In my introduction I mentioned the postdramatic as one very important basis for the notion of postopera by Jelena Novak. I also stated that because of the addition of the storyteller by Hotel Pro Forma, the opera is provided with a counterpart that opens up the possibility for critique of the story and opera itself, which connects to postmodernity; the other basis for Novak’s concept of postopera. In light of the analysis in this chapter I want to explore the possibilities of classifying this staging of Madama Butterfly as postopera in the next chapter.

150 Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Postdramatic Theatre. New York and London: Routledge, 2006, 86. 151 Ibid., 22, 32-33.

59 Part 3. Concerning Postopera

In my introduction I stated that I would discuss this particular staging of Madama Butterfly to the postoperatic discourse. The connection of this staging to Novak’s notion of postopera is based on two main arguments derived from my analysis in the previous part of this thesis. This staging connects to postopera because: 1) the drama lost its primacy, because of 2) the ambi-diegetic position of the storyteller. In the following I will argue how the first of these arguments can be regarded as a postdramatic trait and the second as a postmodern one, which opens up the possibility of this staging to be considered in the postoperatic discourse, since Novak’s notion of postopera is based on both the postdramatic and the postmodern. In her dissertation on the ‘vocalic body in postopera’, Jelena Novak introduces the notion of postopera as a theoretical notion.152 From a discomfort in defining recent works by contemporary composers as ‘opera’, Novak went on to find a more exact term to describe these ‘non-conventional, contemporary, postmodern’ pieces.153 She found the term post-opera in the title of an article by scholar Jeremy Tambling, who only uses it in his title and does not elaborate on it.154 Novak wants to re-introduce this term because she wants to make a thorough comparison with the field of postdramatic theatre as defined by Hans-Thies Lehmann “in order to maintain the opposition between conventional ‘dramatic’ opera, and postdramatic operatic practices.”155 Again, the theme of polarization continues. Next to this connotation, postopera also echoes postmodern opera, something with which Nicholas Till is concerned in describing post-operatic practices. As Novak notes, Till only connects the post-operatic to the postmodern, not to the postdramatic. In her dissertation, Novak discusses “‘Opera after Drama’ or ‘Opera beyond Drama’, postopera, that is opera which is postdramatic and postmodern at the same time.”156 Since she introduces her own take on the term she writes postopera as one word, against Tambling (post-opera) and Till (post-operatic), I will copy her use of the term postopera and thus also its corresponding vocabulary. However, in the coming paragraphs I will use the correct notation concerning the specific notion I am discussing.

152 Novak 2012, 7. 153 Ibid., 8. 154 Tambling, 1996. 155 Novak 2012, 8. 156 Ibid., 9.

60 Novak quotes Lehmann’s explanation of postdramatic theatre as “works in which the primacy of the dramatic text has disappeared. […] Though postdramatic theatre does not break with verbal text, it does break with its dramatic principles. While in dramatic theatre, text and plot are primary, in postdramatic theatre all phenomena involved are given equal attention.”157 By analogy Novak states that since dramatic theatre is theatre structured by drama, conventional (dramatic) opera is structured by drama too. Also, as postdramatic theatre comes after dramatic theatre, postopera comes after (dramatic) opera.158 Postdramatic theatre, as Lehmann notes, is not necessarily postmodern. Novak argues against the use of ‘postdramatic opera’ in her endeavour, because it does not cover her idea of postopera, which also refers to the postmodern.159

3.1 the postdramatic How does Hotel Pro Forma’s Madama Butterfly connect to the postdramatic? I stated that in this staging the primacy of drama is lost, which is a prerequisite for postdrama following the quote of Lehmann above. Although in this performance the whole opera of Puccini is staged, its structure and logic is not dominant. I mentioned for example the silent beginning, the silent scene and repetition of the aria ‘Un bel dì vedremo’. There is something else that is in control of the opera, something that has power over it. This does not mean that this staging breaks with verbal text altogether, it’s merely one element in the staging. I argued that the staging is structured by the performance of the storyteller. This performance is not constructed by text but by movements, images and actions. Lehmann speaks of visual dramaturgy, denoting that it does not “mean an exclusively visually organized dramaturgy but rather one that is not subordinated to the text and can therefore freely develop its own logic.”160 The storyteller is the one that structures the logic of her performance, and also of the opera on the stage behind her. She is in charge of when the opera begins, when the music has to stop for a moment, or when the aria has to be repeated. Next to this the storyteller even defies the logical progression of the dramatic opera when she cuts the screen in the Fontana scene. Not only because of the connotation to Lucio Fontana and his critique on representational art, but also because of her using the knife serves as an omen and a memory. At the end of the original opera Butterfly commits ritual suicide with a knife. Since the Fontana scene takes place before the dramatic opera comes to this moment, it is an omen to it. On the other hand, since the storyteller is the

157 Ibid., 22. 158 Ibid., 23. 159 Ibid., 24. 160 Lehmann 2006, 93.

61 revenant Butterfly, it is also a memory of her own death. Interestingly this connects to another remark Lehmann makes about postdramatic theatre. In contrast to drama, that “does not show death as preceding […] but instead depicts life moving towards it”, postdrama is often concerned with staging memory, even memories coming from beyond the realm of the living.161 In this staging both of this is happening: the opera on the stage depicts the dramatic movement towards the end, the death of Butterfly; in turn, this opera serves as the memory of the storyteller on the podium in front of it, a memory coming from beyond death. Because of the addition of the storyteller, Hotel Pro Forma undermined the dominance of the drama. Thus, specifically because of the addition of this element and allowing it to alter the conventional narrative structures, this staging could be regarded as a postdramatic one. I defined the storyteller as being an ambidiegetic element in this staging, because her position in between narrative layers is an ambiguous one. Her voice exists in her memory on the stage and follows the dramatic progression of the opera, but her body follows the logic of her own performance not of the text. I described this ambiguity as a continuum; the storyteller simultaneously embodies different, even contrasting narratives. This connects to Lehmann’s theory, who defines simultaneity to be one of the characteristics of postdramatic theatre. 162 Next to this ambiguity being yet another connection to the postdramatic, I would argue that it also underscores that other precondition for Novak’s notion of postopera, the postmodern.

3.2 the postmodern As mentioned above, Nicholas Till connects the post-operatic to postmodernity. Together with Kandis Cook he drafted a manifesto for the Post-Operative Productions Company that is “concerned to develop a critical practice for music theatre and opera that acknowledges the condition of the post-operatic.”163 Novak points out that by ‘critical’ they mean the examination of the own possibilities by a discipline. About the postmodern in connection to the post-operatic, they state: “…the reference is also obviously to – to the kind of anti-foundationalist thinking that’s been one of the most valuable aspects of post- modernist thinking. In theatre terms that means questioning the idea of the integrity of the original art-work.”164 As I quoted in my introduction, Till and Cook are not interested in investigating most works in the repertory. Novak states that since Till and Cook are

161 Ibid., 71. 162 Ibid., 87. 163 Till and Cook in Novak 2012, 28. 164 Ibid.

62 concerned not only with postmodern opera but also with opera in the age of postmodernism, this notion still embodies “conventional operatic repertoire and its various postmodern ‘readings’.”165 She concludes this part of defining her notion of postopera by stating: “The notion of postopera that I plead for does not refer to conventional opera and its contemporary reworkings, but only to unconventional recently created pieces. Till and Cook do not clearly specify a postdramatic dimension to their post-operative productions, while I insist that what should be named postopera is postdramatic, and postmodern at the same time.”166 Till and Cook connect postmodernity in theatre to questioning the idea of the integrity of the original artwork. In my analysis I mentioned all the white older men that are responsible for this opera, based on other stories by other white older men. One could question their authority on the matter. However their intentions might have been nothing but noble, what knowledge does an Italian man in his forties have about the world of an adolescent Japanese girl? Why should anyone believe what he has to say about her intentions and emotions? This is actively questioned in this staging of Madama Butterfly, in which the story in a way is ‘given back’ to Butterfly herself. Yes we see Puccini’s opera, but always through her eyes, showing us her anger, showing us that she is not the puppet she is in Puccini’s opera, but a real woman restlessly lingering around memory. She cannot help but sing the lyric melodies and arias, almost against her own will. The critique expands from the opera into the audience: why do we want to see her story? To watch her die over and over again? In this way the staging of Hotel Pro Forma questions Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and consequently the genre of (repertoire) opera altogether. Whose story are we watching? Who is presenting it to us? This staging asks us to not merely accept everything we see, but to try and pierce the dramatic illusion and get to the bottom of it. This is achieved by the addition of the ambidiegetic storyteller. Because of her presence the original opera is contrasted and thereby challenged. In this way the integrity of the original artwork is constantly challenged, a postmodern trait according to Till. The postmodern is actually embodied by the storyteller in the sense that she is not just one thing at the same time. Her presence raises questions that challenge the authority of the original piece. It is precisely her ambiguity that invokes the postmodernity of this staging, since it defies and questions normative polarizations, hierarchy and conventions. After this short discussion on the postdramatic and the postmodern, both present in Hotel Pro Forma’s Madama Butterfly because of the addition of the storyteller and its

165 Ibid., 29. 166 Ibid., 29.

63 narrative implications, it feels safe to designate this staging as postopera. This can be confusing however, since the original opera is certainly not a postopera, but a conventional dramatic one. So to be clear I would argue that this production can be classified as a postoperatic staging, in line with Novak’s notion of postopera.

64 Conclusion The purpose of this thesis has been to try and understand the different layers of narration in the 2017 staging of Madama Butterfly by Hotel Pro Forma, using terms derived from different fields of narratology. In the introduction I stated that in this staging the narrative of the original opera is altered because of the addition of a storyteller; the revenant Madama Butterfly. I analysed this storyteller and the ways her presence influences the narrative of the performance according to narratological theories that I established in the first part. From this analysis the following conclusions can be derived. In discussing narratological discourses in the first chapter, it became clear that the core of most of these theories is formed by categorical polarizations. I started by discussing the first, classical polarization of mimesis versus diegesis that can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle. I outlined how their preference for one over the other differs, both writers acknowledge these two main ‘manners of speaking’. Moving closer to our time, I turned to the ideas of Gérard Genette on these matters. I discussed his definition of the extradiegetic, intradiegetic and metadiegetic levels. Different narrators in a story can be identified according to these different levels, either inside or outside of the story-world. In analysing the staging of Madama Butterfly and specifically the figure of the storyteller, this polarization proved insufficient. I have argued how the storyteller exists inside of the story, as well as outside of it. On the one hand she is not located in the intradiegetic world of the opera, hence is extradiegetic to it. On the other, her voice is located within the opera, which means she is at the same time an intradiegetic and extradiegetic figure. Another term conceived by Genette is focalization. I discussed the more elaborate notion of focalization by Mieke Bal as outlined in a book on the matter by Maya van den Heuvel-Arad. Although Bal distinguishes the internal and the external focalizer, another polarization, she also notes how sometimes a narrator can be classified as both external and internal and coins the term ambiguous focalization. This is the first ‘depolarizing’ term I found in the narratological sources. In analysing Madama Butterfly I argued that the storyteller is indeed an ambiguous focalizer. She is an external focalizer, staying explicitly outside of the story-world on her square podium; then again she is also an internal focalizer as she herself is a character in the story she is presenting us with. The storyteller remains an ambiguous character and cannot be categorized in either one side of the dichotomy. Moving on from literature to narratology in the audio-visual realm, I discussed the notions of diegetic and nondiegetic and argued against these polarizing terms. I have outlined the practice in film studies to analyse elements as coming from inside of the story-

65 world of the film (diegetic) or from outside of it (nondiegetic). My main opposition to this dichotomy was that defining elements like a textual intervention or a soundtrack as nondiegetic is a contradiction in terms since those ‘nondiegetic’ features also help to construct the narrative, the diegesis. That is why I preferred to continue with Genette’s notions of extradiegetic and intradiegetic. This polarization also became problematic however, in discussing the narratological identity of different types of song in the musical film. If a character is ‘speaking’ by means of singing, yet seems not ‘aware’ of him or herself singing – as is often the case in the musical film – is this song then intradiegetic or extradiegetic? The polarization proved to be inadequate to analyse the narratological location of this kind of song. I found the similar problem of classification in Robbert van der Lek’s analysis of music in film and opera. Concerning ‘opera music’ (the music coming from the orchestra) he notes that it is neither intradiegetic nor extradiegetic since it is on the one hand external to the story, on the other hand it is not just externally added to the opera but is the very means by which the opera communicates. Another polarization proves to be inadequate. In an attempt to overcome these kinds of problematic polarizations I introduced to this thesis the term ambi-diegesis. The original term is coined by Morris Holbrook and concerns a type of song in the musical film that is both extradiegetic and intradiegetic, in the same way I just described. I proposed that this term might be helpful to overcome van der Lek’s struggle in defining the orchestra music in an opera. In my analysis however, I argue that the orchestra music in this staging of Madama Butterfly shifts from being ambi- diegetic to intradiegetic, since the storyteller uses it as a narrative instrument; a tool to convey her story to the audience. In turn I analysed how the storyteller herself now takes this ambiguous place and defined her as an ambidiegetic element. As mentioned above, the notion of ambi-diegesis is coined by Holbrook to describe the ambiguous position of certain songs in the musical film. I want to broaden the term by using it to describe the position of the storyteller in this staging. Because the term is used for a different purpose than the one proposed by Holbrook in this thesis, I started to use the term ambidiegetic, losing the hyphen. Connecting to the statements above I state that the storyteller is an ambidiegetic narrator because she is both an extradiegetic and intradiegetic narrator and she is an internal and external, thus ambiguous, focalizer. This is emphasized in the staging by Hotel Pro Forma through the architecture of this staging, the disjunction of voice and body in the storyteller and her embodiment of different times. Concluding the first part I reflected on the polarization of genres, as outlined by Hilda Meldrum Brown. She discusses the opposition of dramatic versus epic, in describing

66 the work of Richard Wagner and Bertolt Brecht. She rightly opposes the polarization of these two genres – since they are not each other’s opposite, but two different categories, using the same elements in a different manner. Alongside her reflections on the matter I elaborated on the different qualities of a dramatic work and an epic one. I concluded that both the dramatic genre as well as the epic genre make use of both mimetic (dramatic) and diegetic elements, but in a different narratological hierarchy. The premise for the dramatic genre is a closed, that follows its own internal logic. Within this universe however, narrative elements can occur. In epic theatre dramatic and narrative parts are altered; the dramatic whole cannot keep up its own logic, but is interrupted by narrative moments or Verfremdungseffekten. This means that the epic genre is not ‘anti-dramatic’ but simply complements drama with narrative on the same level. Following this, it is a falsehood to oppose the dramatic with the epic. This is something that Brecht was well aware of, which is why he proposed later in his career to change the classification of his work as epic theatre into dialectic theatre. Which is the term I also continued to use in my analysis. Following these notions of genre I stated that Madama Butterfly, meaning the original opera written by Puccini, is a dramatic piece. It presents us with a closed universe, inhabited by made-up characters, that follows its own logical plot. On the other hand I argued that its staging by Hotel Pro Forma is not of a dramatic kind. Logically it might be designated as an epic staging. However, this genre notion also proved to be insufficient to fully represent this performance. I made this argument because first of all this staging does not alter the dramatic universe that Puccini prescribed, but rather complements it continuously with another narrative. Next to that, this other narrative is not provided by text – which still dominates the epic genre – but by visual performance. To try and define this staging I added a third chapter to this thesis, concerning postopera. In the last part of this thesis I reflect upon the possibilities of this staging to be regarded as a postopera, in the definition by Jelena Novak. I discussed how Novak bases postopera in the postdramatic and the postmodern. I argued that both these bases are present in the concerned staging of Madama Butterfly. Because the ambidiegetic narrator uses the original opera to tell her story, it looses its primacy. The logical structure of the drama is still shown, but is not dominant anymore. In turn it is the memory of the storyteller that defines the structure of this performance. Because the drama is present but not the dominant factor, I argued that this staging is a postdramatic one. Next to this I proposed that it is also postmodern, since the addition of the storyteller opens up the possibility to question the integrity of the original artwork. Since the postdramatic and the

67 postmodern are both at the core of this staging, I argue that it can indeed be regarded as a postoperatic one. In my introduction I stated that the main objective of this thesis is a dramaturgical one, not only concerned with the ‘how’ but also with the ‘why’. Above I have outlined how the storyteller in Hotel Pro Forma’s staging of Madama Butterfly influences the different narrative layers and how to define her status as a narrator. The choices made in this staging are not only narratologically interesting but also generate meaning and even critique on the original opera. First of all, by adding a storyteller in front of the stage, Hotel Pro Forma visualizes the narrator, which would be absent in a conventional, dramatic staging. Secondly, this narrator is not the original writer – Puccini and his team – but the protagonist of the story. In a way Hotel Pro Forma gave the story back to Butterfly. In addition they portrayed ‘Puccini’s Butterfly’ as a puppet; a mute, dead object that is not able to move itself. I read this as a critique of the original opera and its writers. In this staging, Madama Butterfly is freed from the dramatic cage in which she was locked by six Italian middle-aged men. Well, only her body is freed and able to show her anger and emotions, her voice still belongs to Puccini. Which brings me to my third point of reading this staging as a critique of opera all together. Like the storyteller, the genre is weighed upon by its past, a ballast that can be hard to manage. This is something that Hotel Pro Forma tries to do: challenge the operatic form and its historical ballast. In this staging of Madama Butterfly they found a way to stage and keep intact a beloved repertoire opera, while also being critical of its meaning and message. Because of their creation of the ambidiegetic storyteller to complement and critique the original opera, they altered the narrative layers of the original opera and changed the way it is conceived and read by the audience. Because of these narrative alterations, this staging can be defined as a postoperatic one. Although Novak states that her notion of postopera only applies to newly written work, I propose that new stagings of the repertoire can also be regarded as postopera, which opens up new possibilities of restaging pieces of the past in the present.

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