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Identity, Representation and Transcultural Adaptation in Delius's Koanga

Fox, Richard Bramwell (2016) Identity, Representation and Transcultural Adaptation in Delius's Koanga. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

Frederick Delius’s opera Koanga remains to this day a problematic work in many ways. It focuses upon the story of an enslaved African prince, who is taken to work as a labourer on a plantation in Louisiana. Adapted from a tale found in George Washington Cable’s The Grandissimes: a Story of Creole Life, Delius’s work trades the atmosphere of the local-colourist literary style in which Cable writes, for one of high poetry and Wagnerian drama.
This thesis aims to investigate the way in which the swing in ideological stance which occurs during a transcultural adaptive process is palpable through the way in which the racial and social identities of the characters within the opera are represented through both musical and extra-musical means. The complex entanglement of racial identity encased in the plot of the work is (re)constructed by Delius through reference to Eurocentric and imperialistic notions concerned with race and racialism, and this study shows through an application of a postcolonial theoretical frameworks the extent to which this is detectable within the musical text of the work itself. The two protagonists in Koanga are both figures of social ambiguity, and hence binary nonconformity, and a further principle aim of this study is to demonstrate the way in which this is reflected by complex compositional processes, which draw on both the models of musical blackness and whiteness used within the opera in order to create a mode of hybrid musical representation befitting of these characters.
By examining the power structures upheld by the social hierarchy, the driving force behind the plot of the opera itself is revealed as a combination of the facets of imperialist and colonialist discourse, which attempts to control and manipulate the principle characters, whose transgressions of social (and musical) norms pose them as a threat which in the end must be controlled, or eliminated.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Sharon Beastall
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 15:25
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2017 16:45
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/31579

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