The gender of Orpheus (trans. Hanna Milewska) Cover Image

Płeć Orfeusza (przeł. Hanna Milewska)
The gender of Orpheus (trans. Hanna Milewska)

Author(s): Slavoj Žižek
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Instytut Badań Literackich Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Orpheus; Euridice; Lacan; Psychoanalisys

Summary/Abstract: The present paper is an interpretation of incarnations of the Orpheus and Euridice myth using Lacan’s theory. By referring to operatic embodiments of the myth (in Monteverdi, Gluck, and, at a later date, Offenbach), the author considers the change in how the role of woman is seen, as a muse and ‘midwife’ of a male’s talent. He shows the changing concepts of Euridice’s gesture: she gives Orpheus back his talent through her death. Lastly, by tracing the diversified ideas of composers with regards to how the Orpheus’s part is to be performed (varied voice ranges, from female soprano to male tenor), Mr. Žižek puts forward a thesis that casting female singers in both parts, i.e. as Orpheus and Euridice, and thereby, giving their relationship lesbian traits, would contribute to emphasising the myth’s hidden meanings.

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 153-160
  • Page Count: 8
  • Language: Polish