Disordered Heroes in Opera

Disordered Heroes in Opera

A Psychiatric Report

John Cordingly

Edited by Claire Seymour


Plumbago Books



The psychiatrist John Cordingly examines twelve operatic heroes under six sub-categories of personality disorder, placing them within the histories of mental disorder, sexuality, Byronism and their cultural contexts.
The retired psychiatrist and former music graduate John Cordingly examines twelve operatic heroes under six sub-categories of personality disorder. He justifies his view that they are not 'mad' by tracing the histories of mental disorder, sexuality and Byronism, and by placing each opera within its cultural context. He also considers what professional treatment is needed according to modern criteria.

His gallery of heroes includes the hubristic Otello and Godunov, the psychopathic Iago and Claggart, the schizoid Wozzeck and Grimes, the borderline Werther and Herman, the narcissistic Don Giovanni and Onegin, and the repressed and melancholic Faust and Aschenbach. Each is considered within the overall design of their respective work. Cordingly also probes the reception of each opera and draws comparisons with cases from life. The book is a landmark in being the first of its kind and weaves a fascinating tapestry of concerns. It is also eminently readable.

JOHN CORDINGLY (author) is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. CLAIRE SEYMOUR (editor) is Head of Senior College at Queen's College London and the author of The Operas of Benjamin Britten (Boydell Press).


1 black and white illustrations
216 pages
24x15.6 cm
Defining Opera
Paperback, 9780993198335, October 2015
Hardback, 9780993198328, October 2015
Library eBook
Plumbago Books
BISAC MUS028000, PSY022080
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Fascinating. OPERA

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