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Dr Alexandra Wilson

Follow Dr Alexandra Wilson on Twitter: @amwilson_opera

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Alexandra Wilson is Co-Founder and Co-Director of OBERTO, with Barbara Eichner. She is Reader in Musicology at Oxford Brookes University, where she runs the MA in Music.

Alexandra is a musicologist and cultural historian specialising in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century opera viewed within its critical, cultural and political contexts. A particular focus of her research has been the reception and politicisation of Puccini’s works: her monograph, The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2007) was awarded the American Musicological Society’s Lewis Lockwood Award for a work of outstanding musicological scholarship.

Alexandra Wilson’s research interests include music and national identity; opera and gender (particularly constructions of masculinity); singers and recording culture; the contemporary staging of opera; and the contemporary reception of opera through other artforms. Current projects include a study of operatic culture in 1920s Britain and an article on the use of opera in period film.

In addition to her academic work, Alexandra has presented numerous broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and regularly writes programme essays for opera companies in the UK and overseas, particularly for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Her second book, Opera: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2010), seeks to demystify opera and demonstrate its relevance to contemporary life.

Dr Barbara Eichner

Follow Dr Barbara Eichner on Twitter: @BarbaraEichner

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Barbara Eichner (Co-Founder and Co-Director) is a music historian who counts, among her many and varied interests, the stage works of Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss and Ethel Smyth in their historical, cultural and aesthetic contexts. Several chapters of her monograph History in Mighty Sounds: Musical Constructions of German National Identity, 1848-1914 (Boydell, 2012) investigate the role of opera in the formation of a German national identity in the second half of the ‘long’ nineteenth century. She is particularly interested in works that are rooted in national myth and history (e.g. the Nibelungs or ‘Hermann the German’), and the question of transnational and cross-cultural transfer and reception. She has also contributed entries on ‘German national identity’ and Lohengrin to the forthcoming Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia edited by Nicholas Vazsonyi.

Recent opera activities include presentations about Wagner’s minor characters Wolfram, Hunding and Magdalene at the Universities of Huddersfield and Birmingham; a paper on Wagnerism in Britain at the WagnerWorldWide2013 conference in Bern / Switzerland; and the participation in several BBC Broadcasts celebrating the Wagner anniversary 2013 (e.g. a feature on Wagner: Making a National Hero).

Barbara is council member of the International Ethel Smyth Society e.V. established in 2008 to promote the music and to encourage further research on this fascinating composer.

Dr Hugo Shirley

Follow Dr Hugo Shirley on Twitter: @HugoJEShirley

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Hugo Shirley is an Honorary Research Associate at Brookes, based in the OBERTO research unit. He received his PhD in 2011 from King’s College London, where his thesis was a critical study of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Die Frau ohne Schatten within the context of each of its creators’ different ways of engaging with modernity. His recent publications include the article ‘Melancholy and Allegory in Die Frau ohne Schatten’, which appeared in the Cambridge Opera Journal in 2012, and ‘In Search of Strauss’, a review-article on The Cambridge Companion to Richard Strauss, published in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

Hugo’s research interests extend to all aspects of opera performance, reception and dissemination, and his research is also enriched by links to the industry and his work as a critic for the SpectatorDaily Telegraph and Opera magazine (of which he is also one of the Deputy Editors). Beyond this he writes widely on music, having contributed to the ENO/Overture guides, and written programme and liner essays for the BBC, the Edinburgh Festival, Opera Holland Park, Opus Arte and EMI. His blog, Fatal Conclusions, can be read here.

Dr Katharine Craik

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Dr Katharine Craik is a Reader in Early Modern Literature (1550-1700) in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes, and a librettist. Her current opera project, Watching, a collaboration with composer Dee Isaacs (University of Edinburgh), is an exploration of the history of sleep funded by an Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust. Previous works include The Quicken Tree (2011), also with Dee Isaacs; and works for Glyndebourne Education and ENO Baylis written in collaboration with composer David Knotts.


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