Bodily Charm is a passionate defense of opera as a living as well as live art. Written for both the opera lover and the specialist by a physician and a literary critic, it is an accessible and engaging interdisciplinary exploration of the operatic body—both the actual physical bodies of the singers and audience members and the represented body on stage in operas such as Death in Venice, Salome, Rigoletto, Der Ring des Nibelungen, and Elektra.
Linda Hutcheon is a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Toronto. She is the author of a number of books, most recently Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony. Michael Hutcheon, M.D., is a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. The Hutcheons are coauthors of Opera: Desire, Disease, Death (Nebraska 1996).
"As in 1996's Opera: Desire, Disease, Death the authors draw from an impressively broad church of opinion . . . . The Hutcheons have an enjoyable roam across the more obvious bodily exposures in opera . . . . The writing and the supporting commentaries command attention."—BBC Music Magazine (London)
"The product of exceptional knowledge of the repertoire, wide reading, synthesis of a broad range of sources (scholarly and journalistic writing, biography, fiction, and film), and the perspective their own specializations give them, this thought-provoking narrative is as accessible to students and serious fans as it is to scholars. . . . It is refreshing to find a book of this nature that calls on modern critical theory but is neither obsessive nor unintelligible. Recommended for all collections."—Choice
"If the challenge and fascination of producing opera is the visual realization of what we hear in the music—of seeing with our ears and hearing with our eyes—this book should be the companion of every conductor, stage director, opera lover, or simply those curious about the irrational animal that opera is. Once again Linda and Michael Hutcheon have produced a work of imagination, illumination, and thoughtfulness which derives from their remarkably passionate love and comprehensive knowledge of opera. They face with absorbing success the daunting question of why opera causes such extraordinary and extreme reactions in apparently sane people. This is a book for the professional and the amateur; it kept me reading far into the night."—Richard Bradshaw, international conductor and general director of the Canadian Opera Company
"'Body criticism' meets opera, and the encounter—as we would expect from the Hutcheons—is by turns entertaining and perplexing, edifying and strangely moving: a vade mecum for anyone who has felt the tremors of operatic ecstasy."—Roger Parker, author of Leonora's Last Act: Essays in Verdian Discourse
"The hero of Bodily Charm: Living Opera is not an operatic character or a singer or a composer, but rather a god: Dionysus, got of wine, ecstasy, dance, and for Linda and Michael Hutchenson, the real god of opera. The authors of this book by no means deny the restraining role of Apollo, but . . . they have set out to restore a proper balance."—J.L. Wisenthal, Canadian Literature