Reclaiming Calliope: Freeing the Female Voice through Undomesticated Singing (Paperback)
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The practice and politics of the unfettered female voice--reclaiming your power through voice, song, and opera-inspired exercises.
For centuries, opera has used women’s voices to convey male stories. Within an art form dominated by men, the female voice is a means to an end: controlled, denatured, and crafted to carry words and intentions that belie the true depth and complexity of the female experience.
Here, author and opera singer Fides Krucker shows readers what it means to find--and use--our authentic voice, to sing wildly and uninhibited from the depths of our bodies and spirits. Part memoir, part radical vocal guide, and part feminist call to action, Reclaiming Calliope offers an intriguing look at the rarified world of opera, with fascinating behind-the-scenes details to which outsiders don’t typically have access. Through incisive critique, personal stories, and intriguing exposé, Krucker razes the male gaze that packaged characters like Carmen, Tosca, and La traviata’s Violetta for viewer consumption--and radically envisions an empowered, new way of finding and fueling the authentic female voice.
Through a series of breathing and vocal prompts that anyone--not just singers--can do, Krucker helps readers reconnect to their authentic primal voices: she takes the reader inside her vocal studio to learn new methods of breath, voicework, and embodiment to uncover and access personal and social truths. Each chapter includes a theme-related exercise--an act of expression, release, self-discovery, or resistance--that guides readers to develop voices unbound from anyone else’s storytelling, boldly and without apology.
About the Author
FIDES KRUCKER has sung, produced and created contemporary opera and interdisciplinary work in Canada and abroad for over thirty-five years. Her unconventional vocal techniques have been used by theatre and dance professionals and students, singers of jazz and pop, choir members who lose their voice in practice, as well as classical singers too rigid in their former technique to take on contemporary work, or to feel happy within traditional opera.
“Reclaiming Calliope is both a finely wrought, intimate artistic memoir and a triumphant journal of a lifelong quest for the authentic, liberated female voice in face of historical and present-day patriarchal disdain.”
—Gabor Maté, MD, author of When the Body Says No
“Reclaiming Calliope is many things at once. It is a memoir of such honesty and insight that it illuminates all our individual lives. It is an unflinching assessment of how the authentic female voice is systematically deprecated and silenced in our culture, exiled from the body’s deep wisdom. It is a keening, outraged lament for that violence—and at the same time a patient, nurturing methodology to help women, especially, reconnect. It is a fresh, story-filled, life-affirming, beautifully calibrated message of hope.”
—Philip Shepherd, author of Radical Wholeness coauthor of Deep Fitness
“Fides Krucker’s personal and prismatic reflection on womanhood, art, the voice, patriarchy, the body, and history offers various brilliant methods of unshackling our most primal and most free selves....It is a revelation, a freewheeling compendium of insight and great depth.”
—Patricia Rozema, filmmaker, Into the Forest, Mansfield Park, Mouthpiece, and I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
“An utterly unique and groundbreaking exploration of voice. Weaving together personal, political, and historical anecdotes about singing, opera, and female agency, Krucker reminds us of the honesty of our bodies.”
—Tessa McWatt, author of Shame on Me
“Fides plumbs the depths of the human voice, weaving its flesh and spirit together in order to unleash its true potential. This deep dive into the siren call left me digging the mermaid and brought tender tears to my eyes.”
—Paul de Jong, voice teacher and coach/cohead of coaching, Stratford Festival
“Historically, women and voice are not spoken about from the lens of the body and, when they are, emotion is amputated. As a disabled woman, artist, somatic specialist, and advocate of intimate access in the arts and all sectors, I cannot tell you how dangerous that is to our health, and how refreshing it is to relate to the climactic discoveries that Krucker shares about women.”
—Traci Foster, founder and artistic director, Listen to Dis’ Community Arts Organization and somatic artist, Fitzmaurice Voicework and Somatic Experiencing
“An unforgettable reading experience for anyone who has ever felt the power of song.”
—Theo Dombrowski, author, artist, and illustrator
“This remarkable book takes the reader into its exploration of voice as a means of recovering the wholeness of being human....I defy anyone, whether male, female, or nonbinary, to read this book without undergoing their own journey of transformation. Reclaiming Calliope can help us all reclaim our full humanity and thereby be able to find the joy of true mutuality.”
—Stephen K. Levine, professor emeritus, York University; Paul Celan Professor of Philosophy and Poetics, European Graduate School; and author of Philosophy of Expressive Arts Therapy
"Opera singer Fides Krucker’s book is both a moving artistic memoir and a radical self-help work, presenting a method of freeing one’s authentic voice to reclaim power, agency, and self-worth."
—Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews