AuthorSmith, Dori Marie
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractLyric Possession: A Dramatization of Italian Tarantism in Song is a one-act creative project informed by research exploring the formation and evolution of Mediterranean musical, religious, and cultural identity through the practice of the tarantella. The tarantella is a musical form woven into the very fabric of the Mediterranean cultural landscape, in song, dance and folkloric history. The transformation of scholarly perspectives into dramatic format, recalling traditional Italian folk drama, illuminates the history and cultural relevance of the tarantella through the lives and songs of its practitioners. In the Salentine peninsula where magic and religion collide, the ritualistic healing practice of the tarantella has served as a musical mechanism for dealing with reactions to socio-cultural issues such as repression of sexual identity, disenfranchisement, poverty and powerlessness experienced by Southern Italian women for centuries. Believed to have been a reaction to the venom of the indigenous Italian tarantula or wolf spider, peasant women in the Salentine peninsula exhibited poisoning-like symptoms and possession by spider spirits cured only through the performance of the tarantella and through the intercession of St. Paul, the patron saint of those who perform the tarantella, the tarantists. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, to examine the musical manifestations of the Tarantella as informed by its folkloric history, particularly in consideration of gender marginalization and female power. Second, to create a musical drama that portrays the music of the tarantella in a dramatic context that will reflect its folkloric history, scholarship by the anthropological, ethnomusicological and psychological communities in the form of the ritual itself. The project proposes that the complex, multifaceted history of the tarantella may best be captured and expressed through practice via a recreation of the ritual in the form of a musical drama.
Degree ProgramGraduate College