Joe Cadagin holds a PhD in Musicology from Stanford University, and has been a long-time journalist of the world of opera. He is a regular features writer and recording critic for Opera News, and a former contributor to San Francisco Classical Voice and Fanfare. His dissertation was a study of the Lewis Carroll madrigals of Hungarian composer, György Ligeti. A future monograph will extend this work into an overview of the many Alice in Wonderland compositions that emerged alongside the Ligeti settings, addressing trends and patterns in the development of contemporary opera and vocal music. His public writing centres on opera with emphasis on works written in the past 60 years, particularly those by little-known, underrated, and underrepresented composers.
Conceived in the novelty-seeking spirit of fantastic bestiaries or cabinets of wonder, Opera Obscura is a podcast showcasing forgotten works of contemporary opera based on unusual subjects. Episodes will excavate a strange assortment of recordings recovered from bargain bins and back catalogues—misfit operatic orphans that deserve a second chance in the repertoire.
JHI Annual Theme, 2021-2022: Pleasure
Whether understood as light amusement or passionate pursuit, as pure enjoyment, sensual gratification, bliss or hedonism, pleasure may be the most agreeable motivator. Yet pleasure has been described as “curious and appalling,” one of modern civilization’s most deadly poisons. Through its diverse manifestations – as intellectual satisfaction and the pleasures of knowledge, across studies of media audiences, addiction, virtual sex – when, and how, has pleasure become divorced from ideology, politics, and power? Uneasiness concerning pleasure resonates readily with humanists’ tendencies to formulate our subjects of study as constellations of problems, but is there space in our discourses for unironic joy?