Biblical Salome Story Brought to Light by Visiting Prof

Professor Susan McClary
May 7, 2015—The University of Oregon is honored to welcome Susan McClary, Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University, for a scholarly lecture on the UO campus on May 22.
The UO School of Music and Dance has named McClary a 2015 Trotter Visiting Professor, a mark of distinction reserved for honored guest artists and scholars.
McClary will deliver her talk “Salome in the Court of Queen Christina,” exploring questions of gender related to musical versions of the Salome story, on Friday, May 22 at 3:15 p.m. at Collier House on the UO campus.
The lurid biblical story of John the Baptist, King Herod, and Herod’s precocious stepdaughter became an operatic hit in 1905 when Richard Strauss composed a musical setting of Oscar Wilde’s scandalous play Salome. Wilde and Strauss punish their Salome by crushing her to death at the final curtain, but an earlier musical version of this character—la Figlia in Alessandro Stradella’s oratorio San Giovanni Battista (1675)—manages to triumph at the end, celebrating her seductive wiles.
Not coincidentally, Stradella composed for Queen Christina of Sweden, who took up residence in Rome after her infamous abdication. The sole female patron among the popes and cardinals who called the shots in this city, she fostered representations of powerful women and even broke prohibitions that usually guaranteed that castrati played all high-voiced roles. This talk will present performed excerpts from Stradella’s stunning score. It will also consider the reasons why femmes fatales ruled the operatic stage in the seventeenth no less than in the late nineteenth century.
McClary, who earned her Ph.D. at Harvard in 1976, is best known for her 1991 book Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality, which examines cultural constructions of gender, sexuality, and the body in various musical repertories, ranging from early seventeenth-century opera to the songs of Madonna.
McClary is also author of numerous additional publications exploring the many ways in which subjectivities have been construed in music from the sixteenth-century onward. Her research focuses on the cultural criticism of music, both the European canon and contemporary popular genres.

Event details:

Friday, May 22
Public Lecture: Susan McClary
“Salome in the Court of Queen Christina”
3:15 p.m., Collier House
Free admission
McClary’s visit to the UO campus is facilitated by the university’s interdisciplinary THEME colloquium of faculty and student researchers in music theory (T), musicology/music history (H), ethnomusicology (E), and music education (ME).