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Revealing MasksExotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater$
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W. Anthony Sheppard

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223028

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223028.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 October 2021

Britten's Parables

Britten's Parables

(p.126) 9 Britten's Parables
Revealing Masks

W. Anthony Sheppard

University of California Press

The phenomenon of domesticating the exotic is common to many examples of cross-cultural appropriation or (more neutrally) of influence in the twentieth century. Modernist Euro-American composers repeatedly discovered what they had been looking for in their exotic models and tended to adopt only those prevalued elements. Such exotic features then took on a special fluid status: having been extracted from their specific native environment they became “exotic” in general and lost their particular meanings. Stripped of their original context, they were routinely cloaked with new meanings, and they were readily combined with traits from other exotic sources. Like Yeats, who had moved from three plays based on Japanese Noh models to an entirely Christian context with his final dance play Calvary, Britten moved progressively away from his exotic source both in the composition of Curlew River and in the evolution of the Church Parables. This departure from the exotic toward the security of a “comparable setting” was of paramount importance to Britten's creation of this genre.

Keywords:   exotic sources, Benjamin Britten, Curlew River, Church Parables

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