The Music of Tragedy: Performance and Imagination in Ancient Greek Theater, with Professor Naomi A. Weiss


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SKU: SMOT Category: Tag:
Start Date: 09/19/2019, 1 meeting
Class Time: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Location: Lexington Depot
Status: Running/Openings



Every year in classical Athens, thousands would gather at the theater to see the latest tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and their contemporaries. The production of these plays was not simply a theatrical event: it was a musical one. Each tragedy featured a chorus, who would regularly sing and dance to the accompaniment of pipes; sometimes actors would sing with them or perform show-stopping arias of their own. Professor Weiss will demonstrate how we can access some of the vibrant musicality of ancient theater through the silent scripts and images that survive. Focusing in particular on Aeschylus and Euripides, she will explore how Greek playwrights were experimenting with music’s dramatic potential throughout the fifth century, often producing their most innovative songs by adapting traditional lyric styles and motifs for the tragic stage.

Naomi Weiss is Associate Professor of the Classics at Harvard University. She holds BA and MSt degrees from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has published widely on representations of musical culture and performance in archaic and classical Greece, especially in fifth-century tragedy. Her first book, The Music of Tragedy: Performance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater, was published in 2018 (University of California Press); her co-edited volume, Genre in Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry: Theories and Models will come out in late 2019 (Brill). She is currently working on a book about the aesthetics of theatrical spectatorship in classical Athens.