Radical Vocality, Auditory Distress and Disembodied Voice in Performance: The Resolution of the Voice-Body in The Wooster Group’s La Didone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In this chapter, I discuss how theories of the disembodied voice call for a cultural understanding of our listening attitudes in music and musical theatre, which goes beyond genre restrictions. I contend that the enhanced interest in vocality on the postmodern stage, which lies at the basis of the newly emerging forms of music theatre since the 1950s (with an increase in the 1980s), has given rise to a general re-‘enchantment’ of the disembodied voice, which re-enacts, challenges, substitutes communicative properties of orality, as much as it pushes and expands the discursive realm of aurality. Therefore, I wish to focus on the principle of acousmatization, which is most inherently part of our aural cultures and technologies, to the extent that this concept is useful to explain the effects of disembodied voices on the listener. Taking various examples of acousmatized voices in contemporary music and musical theatre, I will attempt to uncover the processes of how we perceive bodies in voices, particularly by means of our modes of listening.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheatre Noise
Subtitle of host publicationThe Sound of Performance
EditorsLynne Kendrick, David Roesner
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-1-4438-3440-7
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • theatre studies
  • noise
  • sound
  • sound studies
  • listening
  • aural culture
  • visual culture
  • immersion
  • performance studies
  • aurality
  • narrative theory
  • acousmatic theory
  • opera
  • music theatre
  • Wooster Group

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