La femme, fatale or fallen?

Mitchell, Katharine (2017) La femme, fatale or fallen? Opera Magazine, 2017 (Octobe). pp. 1271-1276.

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Abstract

Embodying the central female role in Bizet’s Carmen and Wagner’s Parsifal (in Kundry), in ‘realist’ opera from France and Germany at the fin de siècle the femme fatale looms large. According to Bram Dijkstra’s landmark interdisciplinary study of misogyny in European culture from this period (OUP, 1986), she functioned as an apparent warning sign of women’s supposedly threatening and all-engulfing sexuality and agency. While the archetype is presented in Italian realist fiction–for example in the eponymous protagonists of Tarchetti’s Fosca (1869) and Verga’s Eva (1873)–she is curiously absent as a central character in Italy’s fin de siècle operatic repertoire. Why?