Nina Penner is a musicologist specializing in opera, musical theatre, and film music. She is the author of Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater (2020), the first systematic exploration of how sung forms of drama tell stories. Unique about her approach is her engagement with current work in analytic philosophy, which reveals not only the resources this philosophical tradition can bring to musicology but those which musicology can bring to philosophy. She also considers practical problems singers and directors confront on a daily basis, such as what to do about Wagner’s Jewish caricatures and the racism of Orientalist operas.
Her next project “Exploring New Collaborative Models in Indigenous-Led Opera in Canada” has received a Brock SSHRC Institutional Grant for 2021–22. In this work, she is collaborating with Amplified Opera, an opera collective based in Toronto that seeks to amplify previously marginalized voices in the industry.
Dr. Penner teaches the Music in Global Cultures and Music in Western Cultures courses as well as upper-year courses in musical theatre and film music. Hear Dr. Penner speak about her efforts to resist colonial power structures in her teaching on the Foreword podcast:
“Sonic Spectacle in Korngold’s Score to Max Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935).” Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Music, edited by Christopher R. Wilson and Mervyn Cooke (forthcoming).
Storytelling in Opera and Musical Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020.
“Intentions in Theory and Practice.” Music & Letters 99, no. 3 (2018): 448–70.
“Rethinking the Diegetic/Nondiegetic Distinction in the Film Musical.” Music and the Moving Image 10, no. 3 (2017): 3–20.
“Opera Singing and Fictional Truth.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71, no. 1 (2013): 81–90.