soloist, diva, woman performer, gender studies
This chapter will assess the evolving opportunities of female classical performers, embracing both singers and instrumentalists, since 1900. Throughout this period, performance as a profession for women has acquired a respectability which it did not have before the First World War, and, in recent decades, women, such as percussionist Evelyn Glennie and trumpeter Alison Balsam, have forged careers performing instruments which were deemed unsuitable for women until the mid-twentieth century. For female performers right up to the present day, however, their appearance remains a topic which critics are often not shy to comment upon. As late as 2014, Tara Erraught was a victim of ‘fat shaming’ at the hands of a number of critics; perfomers such as Vanessa Mae and Katherine Jenkins, meanwhile, have cultivated deliberately sexualised images. This chapter addresses this through a discussion of image, reception, sexualisation and marketing within the classical music business.