When a voice is not enough
: the existentialist opera performer as auteur

  • Jorge Balca

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This document is the written component of a Practice-as-Research (PaR) doctoral project exploring opera training and opera production, with a particular focus on the creativity of the opera performer. It is submitted alongside a DVD evidencing a two-week-long training workshop with professional opera performers based on the Jacques Lecoq method of actor training. The four main research questions ask how performers can be included in the creative process as auteurs; what characterises a type of training model capable of unlocking the performers’ creativity and what skills it develops; how opera can evolve and outgrow definitions constrained by specific production models; and what impact the PaR processes had on the artistic practice.
Chapter 1 starts by giving an overview of opera training and production practices and establishes the research within the radical humanist paradigm of the social sciences. Chapter 2 introduces the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, the theory of multiple intelligences of Howard Gardner and aspects of the creativity theory of Ken Robinson as the three major philosophical pillars of the study. Chapter 3 positions the research in the history and debates of PaR. It also details the Lecoq-inspired content of the workshop and offers a rationale for the use of studio-based group training, semi-structured interviews and training diaries as primary research methods. Chapter 4 complements the accompanying DVD to present the data that is further analysed in Chapter 5. Finally, Chapter 6 concludes the thesis by establishing the need for a safe exploratory ensemble environment, if the performer is to achieve his/her creative potential. That, however, requires the fostering and application of ‘multiple intelligences’ to performance and a non-deterministic view of the material. Ultimately, the thesis establishes the notion of an opera beyond the confinements of the structures that define what opera currently is, and presents a vision of opera as what we will it to become.

To view the video, please go to this link: https://researchportal.port.ac.uk/portal/en/datasets/when-a-voice-is-not-enough-the-existentialist-opera-performer-as-auteur--dvd(da796bc7-4a77-42bd-ae86-16808a4342cc).html
Date of AwardJan 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorGeorge Burrows (Supervisor)

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