This paper examines the portrayal of women in various forms of vocal music from the 1600s to the 1980s. Analyzing the lyrics and poetry in these different pieces provides an understanding of how females are often portrayed in male-dominated and influenced compositions. This paper is divided into five sections. It begins with an overview of how women have been seen in society and in a musical context throughout history. The next three sections discuss the representation of woman in opera arias, art songs, and musical theatre pieces ranging from the late 1600s until the late 1900s. These various pieces, considered alongside the observations of notable musicologists, reveal a variety of representations of women in vocal music since the seventeenth century. Ultimately, the lack of female composers and lyricists has played a large role in this detrimental depiction of females. Male composers have depicted women in music as abusing their power, being fanciful and romantically naïve, or incapable of independence. It is not until the introduction of musical theatre that there began to be a celebration of female strength and self-determination, although, here too, female representation has limits.
Colorado College Honor Code upheld.
Includes bibliographical references