Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author


Lady Gaga: Melding with Geldings and the Operatic Tradition

Lady Gaga, opera-like production values, and lots of tall, loose-limbed, castrated men. A description of her latest music video? No: it is a partial description of the artistic tradition from which she has grown. The singer/songwriter known as Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) is one in a long line of provocative, post-sixties performance artists who has built a reputation as an “erotic taboo breaker”. Like Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone), Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara) and Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight) before her, Ms Germanotta’s popular image is that of a flamboyant — often outrageous — pan-sexual free-thinker. According to the social critic Camille Paglia, Lady Gaga is “an identity thief . . . a mainstream manufactured product . . .” Well, duh. In truth, Ms Paglia takes nothing away from the good Gaga by pointing out that she is part of a mainstream musical industry, one that goes back nearly 400 years. That “industry” was created in Italy and goes under the blanket designation of “opera”. Say it with Opera An opera is stage drama in which the words are intensified a gazillion times (give or take) by setting them to music. […]

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