The bulk of my research has addressed opera’s fraught relationship with modernity, dealing broadly with the period between 1850 and the present day. My interest in the stubbornly traditional medium of opera (and in the stubbornly traditional nation of Italy) is partially motivated by a desire to complicate entrenched understandings of musical modernism; to this end, I’ve tried to find new ways to talk about both “conservative” composers like Verdi and Puccini and “avant-garde” figures including the Italian futurists, Luciano Berio, and Cathy Berberian. I’ve been especially concerned with the seemingly paradoxical notion of operatic “realism,” a problem that has lead me to devote considerable attention to the early history of sound recording. This interest in technological mediation has, in turn, prompted me to explore the relationship between nineteenth-century opera and a variety of later cultural forms: fascist spectacle, neo-realist cinema, recent experimental stage and film productions, the installations of contemporary visual artists.
I recently completed my first monograph, entitled Puccini’s Soundscapes, and am currently finishing up editing a special issue of Opera Quarterly on “Opera and the Avant-Garde.” My research has been supported by a Marian and Andrew Heiskell Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies from the American Academy in Rome, an AMS-50 fellowship from the American Musicological Society, and the biennial Premio “Rotary” Giacomo Puccini. An essay on Tosca and versimo, published in 19th-Century Music, was awarded the Royal Musical Association’s Jerome Roche Prize, “for a distinguished article published by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career.”