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Faculty of Music

Professor Susan  Rutherford


Honorary Professor of Music
Affiliated Lecturer


Susan Rutherford is Emerita Professor of Music at the University of Manchester, and has held Visiting Fellowships at the University of Oxford and here at the University of Cambridge. Her research is mainly driven by a curiosity about the act of vocal performance: as event, aesthetics, technique, interpretative process, gesture, collaborative engagement, cultural product and social history. Much of her earlier work focused on nineteenth-century Italian opera, performance and gender. Her current research project (funded by a three-year Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, 2016-2019) is entitled A History of Voices: Singing in Britain 1588 to the Present.  Ranging across classical, popular and religious contexts, the project investigates ideas of singing, vocal techniques, performance practice, pedagogy and critical reception, and the way the development of vocality across the centuries in Britain was shaped not only by changing musical styles but also by broader cultural and political imperatives. She is the recipient of both the ‘Pauline Alderman Prize’ (International Alliance for Women and Music), and the ‘Premio Internazionale: Giuseppe Verdi’ (Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani). She regularly contributes public talks and programme notes on opera for various companies (including the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, English National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, BBC Proms, Glyndebourne, and Opera North), and has written and presented two documentaries for BBC Radio 3.


Key publications: 


Verdi, Opera, Women (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

The Prima Donna and Opera, 1815–1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2006).


Edited Books

London Voices 1820-1840: Vocal Performers, Practices, Histories (University of Chicago Press, 2019). 304 pp. Co-editor with Roger Parker.

The New Woman and Her Sisters: Feminism and Theatre 1850-1914 (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992). 238 pp. Co-editor with Viv Gardner.


Book chapters

‘Hearing Voices: Early Recording Technology and the Singer’, Technologien des Singens, ed. Rebecca Grotjahn and Karin Martensen (2020; in press).

‘“A Singer for the Million”: Henry Russell, Popular Song and the Solo Recital’, in London Voices 1820-1840, ed. Roger Parker and Susan Rutherford (University of Chicago Press, 2019), 201-220.

‘The City Onstage: Re-presenting Venice in Italian Opera’, in Operatic Geographies: The Place of Opera and the Opera House, ed. Suzanne Aspden (University of Chicago Press, 2019), 88-104.

‘“Pretending to be wicked”: Technology, Divas and the Consumption of Carmen’, in Technology and the Diva: Sopranos, Opera and Media from Romanticism to the Digital Age, ed. Karen Henson (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 74-88.

‘The Genesis of Norma’, Norma, ed. Gary Kahn, Overture Opera Guides in association with ENO (Overture Publishing, 2016), 9-24.

‘Lablache Sings Donizetti: Italian Operatic Performance in Paris, 1830-1850’, Donizetti in scena. Vedere l’opera, ed. Federico Fornoni (Fondazione Donizetti, 2014), 253-270.

‘The Prima Donna as Opera Impresario: Emma Carelli and the Teatro Costanzi’, in The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss (Oxford University Press, 2012), 272-289.

‘Voices and Singers', in The Cambridge Companion to Opera Studies, ed. Nicholas Till (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 117-138.

‘Remembering — and Forgetting — Verdi. Critical Reception in England in the Early Twentieth Century’, in La critica musicale in Italia nella prima metà del XX secolo, ed. Marco Capra and Fiamma Nicolodì (Marsiglio, 2011), 253-272.

La cantante delle passioni: Giuditta Pasta and the Idea of Operatic Performance’, in National Traditions in Nineteenth-Century Opera: Volume 1, ed. Stephen Huebner, The Ashgate Library of Essays in Opera Studies, 6 vols. (Ashgate, 2010).

‘”Chi sa amar sa morire”: la morte e l’eroina operistica’, in Eroine tragiche, ma non troppo, ed. Pierluigi Petrobelli (Parma: Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani and Teatro Regio, 2007), 13-30.

La traviata, or the “willing grisette”: Male critics and female performance in the 1850s’, in Verdi 2001. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, Parma, New York, New Haven 24 gennaio-1o febbraio 2001, ed. Fabrizio Della Seta, Roberta Montemorra Marvin and Marco Marica, 2 vols. (Florence: Olschki, 2003), Vol. II, 585-600.

‘Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient: Wagner’s Tragic Muse’, in Women, Theatre and Performance: New Histories, New Historiographies, ed. Maggie Gale and Viv Gardner (Manchester University Press, 2000), 60-80.

‘The Voice of Freedom: Images of the Prima Donna’, in The New Woman and Her Sisters: Feminism and Theatre 1850-1914, ed. Viv Gardner and Susan Rutherford (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992), 95-113.



‘Loud and open speaking in “the People’s” mighty name’: Eliza Cook, Music and Politics’, Journal of British Studies, special edition on Music and Politics, ed. David Kennerley and Oskar Cox Jensen (2020; in press)

‘“Qual densa notte!”, or Feeling One’s Way in the Dark’, special issue, Bollettino del Centro Rossiniano di Studi (2020; in press).

‘John Braham and the Death of Nelson’, Studies in Romanticism, 58 (Winter 2019), 4: 525-544; special edition on Song and the City, ed. Ian Newman.

‘Divining the “Diva”, or a Myth and its Legacy: Female Opera Singers and Fandom’, Schweizer Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft—Annales Suisses de Musicologie— Annuario Svizzero di Musicologia, Neue Folge 36 (2016), 39-62.

‘Living, Loving and Dying in Song: Gluck, “Che farò senza Euridice”, Orfeo ed Euridice,  Act III’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 28 (2016), 2: 133-136.

‘“The Opera of the Body”: Verdi’s Compositional Practices’, ISLG Bulletin (2014), 12-13: 22-29.

Bel canto and Cultural Exchange: Italian Vocal Techniques in London 1790-1825’, Umbruchzeiten in der italienischen Musikgeschichte. Deutsch-Italienische Round Table-Gespräche, ed. Christoph Flamm and Roland Pfeiffer, Analecta musicologica, 50 (Bärenreiter, 2013), 129-142.

‘From Byron’s “The Corsair” to Verdi’s Il corsaro: Poetry Made Music’, Nineteenth- Century Music Review, 7 (2010), 2: 35-61.

‘“Non voglio morir”: Manon’s Death’, Opera Quarterly, Special Edition, 24 (2008), 1:36- 50.

La cantante delle passioni: Giuditta Pasta and the Idea of Operatic Performance’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 19 (July 2007), 2: 107-138.

‘Crime and Punishment: Tales of the Opera Chorus in Nineteenth-Century Parma’, Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film, 33 (Winter 2006), 2: 1-11.

‘“Il grido dell’anima”, or “un modo di sentire”: Verdi, Masculinity and the Risorgimento’, Studi verdiani, 19 (2005), 107-121.

‘“Unnatural gesticulation” or “un geste sublime”: dramatic performance in opera’, Arcadia, Band 36, 2001, Heft 2: 236-255.