Axel EnglundJun 7, 2021
Sex, Power, and Perversion on Stage
University of California Press 2020
In Deviant Opera: Sex, Power, and Perversion on Stage (University of California Press, 2020), Axel Englund examines an increasingly common trope in opera direction: the use of imagery associated with the kink and BDSM communities. This imagery underscores the themes of sexuality and domination that run through the opera repertory, and it also calls attention to the essential artificiality of operatic performance: opera, after all, is another form of role play. Some stagings have also used BDSM imagery to subvert problematic gender portrayals in classic opera, or even to call out the power imbalances offstage in the world of contemporary opera, which has recently been rocked by revelations of abuse at the highest level. Englund's book will be interesting to opera fans, kinksters, and anyone interested in contemporary efforts to breathe life into classic works of theatre.
Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.