Journal article

Smyth the anarchist: fin-de-siecle radicalism in The Wreckers

Suzanne Robinson

CAMBRIDGE OPERA JOURNAL | CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS | Published : 2008

Abstract

This essay explores the roots of Ethel Smyth's opera The Wreckers (1903-04), composed to a libretto by H. B. Brewster, in fin-de-siècle debates on the legal and religious regulation of morality. Taking into account Smyth's jaundiced use of Cornish history, the contribution of Brewster's professed individual anarchism and sexual libertarianism, and Smyth's willingness to parody and manipulate musical conventions in order to reinforce radical ideals, it views the work both as a reflection of its authors' engagement with modernism and as a herald of Smyth's subsequent contribution to militant feminism. © 2008 Cambridge University Press.