The song of the siren: Some thoughts on idealization and creativity in Martin?'s Julietta

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Abstract

The authors draw on ideas posited by Segal in her seminal paper ‘A psychoanalytic approach to aesthetics’ to explore idealization and the creative endeavour as it is imaginatively portrayed in the Poutney/Lazaridis production of Martinů's Julietta, performed by Opera North (2003). The opera is set in a dreamlike world in which confusion proliferates, and Julietta is portrayed as a modern-day siren, luring Mischa, the main character, on to the rocks of psychic withdrawal. It depicts an inner drama where music, narrative and spectacle work together to evoke the main character's struggle which touches on universal themes–the ongoing nature of infantile longings, the pain of loneliness and separation and the fear of madness. Through careful reading of the opera and consideration of Martinů's life, the authors reflect on the factors that may have shaped Martinů's relationship to this work, including his feelings towards his homeland, his mid-life crisis and the social and political turmoil of Europe at the time. The authors conclude by reflecting on the aesthetic experience of the opera and the way in which the music transforms the drama and seeks to extend our understanding of psychic truth.

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