I hope no one is put off by my subject line, but I will be doing a
presentation to a Human Sexuality class in a few weeks, dealing with how
sex (including homosexuality) has been depicted in classical music through
the ages. Checking Grove and running searches on the web has turned up
next to nothing, aside from, in the latter case, multiple hits on the Sex
Pistols. Could anyone offer suggestions on important works to mention?
Here are some pieces I'm considering so far:
Carmina Burana (both the original and the Carl Orff settings)
Marriage of Figaro (mostly for the numerous would-be affairs and suspicions
R. Strauss' Salome
Shostakovich's Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk*
Britten's Death in Venice
*I understand that Shostakovich produced a "sanitized" version that was the
only one recorded for a long time, but the original version is once again
available. Is there a particular performance of the complete version that
you recommend, especially on a budget label?
I also have heard that certain madrigals often referred to sex and sex acts,
though in "code" words, such as "to die" meaning to climax. Unfortunately, I
have no one in the know to verify this, so I'm wondering if anyone on the
list can guide me to a good resource or recommend madrigals that would be
appropriate for the subject at hand.
The class is a freshman college-level class. I think it's going to be a
blast to give my spiel, but I'd particularly like to find more pre-20th
century music. I'm sure there are plenty of operas that deal with sex in
some way, but my knowledge of opera is fairly limited.
Thanks very much for your help!
George K. Halsell
Assistant Professor of Music
College of Southern Idaho