An informal theatre theme emerges from the articles presented in Volume 4 of Australasian Music Research. The curtain rises on Australian prima donna Frances Saville, a singer who was thought of as second to Melba during her lifetime, but who has since been undeservedly forgotten. With judicious restraint, Adrienne Simpson traces Saville's career from the rigours of her early days as a member of her parents' travelling opera company to her appointment as a member of Gustav Mahler's ensemble at the Hofoper in Vienna. The account of Saville's early years reminds the modern reader of just how versatile the touring singers of the time had to be and what apparently unsuitable roles they were often required to sing. And we are poignantly made aware of the human cost of celebrity. Too busy to be a mother to her son, Saville was, in the end, after years of heroic traveling around the world, unable to find a place where she could feel she belonged.
The colonial enthusiasm for opera that sustained companies such as that of Saville's family also expressed itself in the receptions given to two of the earliest internationally famous singers to visit Australia: Catherine Hayes and Anna Bishop. Deborah Crisp investigates the critical impact of these two singers and the works they performed on the tastes and operatic preferences of their Sydney audiences in seasons presented between August 1855 and May 1856, setting the scene for the so-called 'golden age' of opera in Australia that was to follow in the subsequent decades. Some readers, observing the efforts of that city to recover from its post-Olympic Games doldrums, may find it reassuring to be told that nineteenth-century Sydney could be left bereft by the departure of a singer!
The interdependence of singer and song emerges as a powerful factor in the success of 'I was Dreaming,' by Augustus W. Juncker, as Jennifer Hill discovers in her analysis of the song's history. Published in 1894, 'I was Dreaming' owed much of its popularity to its inclusion as an interpolated number in Ma mie Rosette, a French operetta by P. Lacome and I. Caryll, which had its Australian premiere in Melbourne in June 1894. Sung at this time by Nellie Stewart, the song was later recorded by Gladys Moncrieff. Issues of taste and of the composer's role in the publication and promotion of popular music in the particular conditions of nineteenth-century Australia are also considered.
The articles by Amanda Card and Suzanne Robinson each explore, in their different ways, how a constructed identity is projected into a work of art. Card's analysis of Robert Helpmann's iconographic ballet The Display charts the manipulation of personal, professional and national constructions and representations of gender and identity in the Australia of the 1960s. The artistic result is hardly flattering to a notion of an Australia that was, yet this work is the second most performed work in the repertoire of the Australian Ballet and its critical reception has, with one notable exception, for the most part remained fairly constant over almost forty years. Few dance works have captured the imagination of Australians as this one has, across the art forms of dance, design and music.
The theatrical theme continues in Robinson's article on Peggy Glanville-Hicks, for not only was Glanville-Hicks a noteworthy composer of works of music theatre, she was also an artist who viewed her own life as, to some extent, a theatrical production to be suitably dramatised and reinvented. Taking as her point of departure the auto/biography of Glanville-Hicks that was cooperatively produced out of the friendship between the subject and the author, journalist Wendy Beckett, Robinson is able to clarify historical detail from her own examination of primary source materials at the same time as she places the book within the current theoretical literature on the creative enterprise of auto/biography, creating a picture of Glanville-Hicks as artist and woman that is infinitely touching in its vulnerability.
In the Studies and Reports section of the journal, the research potential of two very different archives is demonstrated. Ross Harvey's study of the music archive of the Benedictine Community at New Norcia in Western Australia focuses attention on New Norcia's role as one of Australia's important music publishers. Using evidence provided by accounts, receipt books, correspondence and other documents in the archive, Harvey reconstructs some of the circumstances in which the music of the community's most prominent composer and performer, Dom Stephen Moreno, came to be printed, published and disseminated, setting the scene for a possible future analysis of the income that sales of this music provided for the community.
Bronia Kornhauser's mapping of the recently established and still growing Archive of Australian Jewish Music at Monash University is more broadly based, demonstrating ways in which the archive's collections mirror the history, development and diversity of Jewish music, musicians and musical practice (liturgical and secular) in Australia.
Finally, Joel Crotty brings the journal's ongoing review of publications in the field of Australian music studies forward to the end of 1997.
I am grateful to the Chair and Management Committee of the Centre for Studies in Australian Music for giving me the opportunity to be guest editor of this volume of Australasian Music Research. I have enjoyed my contact with the authors and thank them for their attention to the various stages of writing and revising. I wish to thank those members of the journal's advisory board who have been forthcoming with advice and support, particularly Thérèse Radic, Jamie Kassler and Adrienne Simpson, our specialist advisor for New Zealand. Thanks also to John Whiteoak and Joel Crotty of Monash University, and to Peter Burgis for his assistance with the Frances Saville discography. My gratitude goes to those who have acted as referees, busy people who have contributed their time and expertise. Working with Jenny Hill (Assistant Editor), Peter Campbell (Production Editor) and Suzanne Cole (Proof Reader) has been an absolute pleasure, and I thank them for their diligence and attention to detail.
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