The Medievalism of John Adams's El Niño

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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El Niño, John Adams and Peter Sellars’s Nativity opera-oratorio, incorporates premodern sources in its portrayal of a “feminine spirituality.” The work has also been given medievalist interpretations by John La Bouchardiere and Julia Bullock. In each presentation, medievalism constructs twentieth-century concepts of gender, spirituality, and in the more recent productions, race. Adams and Sellars’s gendered, corporeal mysticism evokes the premodern Cult of Mary—reflecting their feminist and New Age values. Bullock and La Bouchardiere’s interpretations reflect evolving attitudes towards El Niño’s key concepts. This is the first study of medievalism in El Niño, and the first analysis of its subsequent interpretations.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Sun, Cecilia, Supervisor
  • Collins, Sarah, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023


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