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Emblems of EloquenceOpera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice$
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Wendy Heller

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520209336

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520209336.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Emblems of Eloquence

Wendy Heller

University of California Press

Opera was an important means through which the polemic about women was waged in Venice. The goddess Venus was the alter ego of Venice's public image. The analogy between Venice and her own opera industry provides an important frame for the consideration of female presence and vocality in opera. Opera provided an occasion to “stage” many of the fantasies aroused by carnival, albeit in a stylized and less threatening fashion. The question of female sexual pleasure in the Galenic sense is addressed. The significance of the courtesan has to do with the mechanisms of female fashioning and self-fashioning. This book introduces a broad range of ways in which the operas might have been understood in the context of contemporary ideologies and expectations. Finally, an overview of the chapters included in this book is given.

Keywords:   opera, Venice, Venus, female presence, vocality, female sexual pleasure, Galenic sense, courtesan

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