Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Music with a concentration in Music Composition, MM
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
trauma; medusa; song cycle; opera; dramatic work; voice and orchestra
Many people know the story of Medusa as she relates to Hercules' adventures. Most think of her as the monster who turns anyone who looks into her eyes into stone. Few people know, however, why Medusa was that way. One of the first written versions of Medusa's story comes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, written in 8 AD. Ovid says that Medusa's beauty invited jealous aspirations from many suitors. One of those suitors was Poseidon, God of the Sea. As was often the case in Greek myth, Poseidon did whatever it would take to have Medusa, and raped her in Athena's Temple. Athena, the wife of Poseidon, punished Medusa by turning her notoriously beautiful hair into snakes, and making her so hideous that anyone looking at her would turn to stone. There are other versions of the story that suggest Athena did it to protect Medusa, but the fact remains that in the end, Medusa was punished to isolation as a monster who would kill anyone who looked at her, while Poseidon remained unscathed. My librettist (Zoey Morris) and I wanted to focus on Medusa's identity after the trauma. We decided to incorporate the two sisters of the myth - Stheno and Euryale - as internal monologues, voices that represented shame, anger, fear, and myriad other emotions we experience after trauma. This piece moves quickly past the traumatic experience itself, bypassing the far too common glorification of sexual assault and trauma in opera, and focuses on Medusa's aftermath and her movement through the world and within herself, as she comes to terms with what has happened to her.
Baerwald, Joshua, "Medusa for three sopranos and chamber orchestra." (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3470.