Vanessa Strydom

“A comparative analysis of the role of gender in three operatic adaptations of Shakespeare'sThe Merry Wives of Windsor

This seminar will examine gender-specific themes in three operatic adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor composed between 1799 and 1849 as well as in the play itself, whilst simultaneously exploring the complex and burgeoning field of adaption theory. These operas are: 

1.     Falstaff, ossia Le tre burle (Falstaff, or the Three Jokes) composed by Antonio Salieri, libretto by Carlo Prospero Defranceschi, premiered in Vienna 1799.

2.     Falstaff composed by Michael William Balfe, libretto by Manfredo Maggioni, premiered in London 1838.

3.     Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor composed by Otto Nicolai, libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal, premiered in Berlin 1849.

The portrayal of the gender themes (more specifically: female agency, the downfall of masculinity and marital relationships) within each opera reflect the evolving socio-political climate in early nineteenth-century Europe—a period rife with political unrest, censorship and tension between the sexes. This seminar will investigate how each opera offers a different depiction of gender attitudes and definitions and use the operatic conventions of their time to convey and accentuate them throughout the course of the story. 



Vanessa Strydom is a Brisbane-based musicologist and soprano with a passion for both nineteenth-century opera and the works of William Shakespeare. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree (majoring in Performance) at The University of Queensland in 2014 with First Class Honours. Under the teachings of Sarah Crane, she received a high distinction for both her final recital and her chamber opera performance. In mid 2015, Vanessa was the soprano soloist for the University of Queensland’s epic Carmina Burana QPAC concert, backed by five choirs and the University of Queensland symphony orchestra, totalling over 500 musicians onstage. Earlier in 2015, she was awarded the Bendigo Bank Classical Singing Scholarship at the Quota Beenleigh Eisteddfod. Vanessa is now undertaking a PhD in Musicology at The University of Queensland where she is investigating the representations of gender in three operatic adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor under the supervision of Dr. Simon Perry, Dr. Denis Collins and Dr. Jennifer Clement. In late 2016, she directed and performed in a concert of operatic excerpts from operas based on the works of Shakespeare as a part of the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions’s concert series “The Delighted Spirit” in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.


Ian Barker

“Provoking Creativity: the role of ontologically thin music combined with informal music learning strategies and desirable difficulties in developing musical creativity in high-achieving,  classically-trained high school music students.”

This seminar will outline an approach to teaching and learning that attempts to disrupt the status quo of most formal music education practices encountered in highly practiced music education institutions, and in so doing, provoke creative musical decision making in the students (and teacher).

I propose that the foundational approaches to much formal music learning can inhibit rather than promote creativity in school environments; the hours of practice dedicated to accuracy, fluency and consistency can lead to highly polished performance of music but also lead to imaginative resistance and reluctance to undertake creative risk-taking.  I suggest that using a number of strategies and techniques that disrupt the closed loop of music replication can provoke creative responses from students in the classroom environment.

This seminar will outline a selection of the creativity literature and its relationship to high school music education, and propose a practical approach to enhancing creativity in the music classroom.



Ian Barker completed his B.Mus.Ed at NSW Conservatorium of Music in the late 1980s and started working in Sydney high schools as a music teacher. Ian has performed as a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist in a number of folk bands (Taliesin, Oran Mor, The Mutual Acquaintances) and has sung pop, jazz and rock music with regional big bands, local rock bands and professional jazz ensembles. As an educator Ian has taught music (Yr7-12), Drama, History and the S-VET course in Entertainment (Technical Operation), directed vocal ensembles, choirs, jazz bands, concert bands, orchestras and stage musicals, and written educational resources for Musica Viva, NSW Department of Education and the Charles Sturt University project; HSC Online. Having continued his education with a Cert III in Live Production, Theatre and Events at NIDA, a Grad Cert in Music Technology at the University of Newcastle and M.Mus in ethnomusicology at UNSW, Ian has worked his way up through the ranks of the NSW Department of Education (through working for over 30 years at a handful of schools across Sydney) and has been the Deputy Principal (and occasionally Relieving Principal) at Conservatorium High School, situated at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, the State’s only specialist music high school in NSW for more than a decade.


Andrew Maddick

“Creative Collaborative Composition in the Context of Interdisciplinary Dyads”

Born out of a personal desire to create works with artists from different traditions, my research seeks to interrogate the following questions: does interdisciplinary collaboration stimulate creative composition? What are the approaches and techniques that artists from different disciplines can employ to compose creatively together? Should collaborators utilize the specific methods and traditions of their field? Can the dynamic of interdisciplinary artists challenging and influencing one another potentially result in new compositional languages where the traditions from which the collaborators have emerged are equally represented?

In this seminar I will share findings from my investigation of interdisciplinary composition through the collaborative development of two original works recently undertaken as my PhD research. The first was between Thomas Husmer (formerly of the Danish band Efterklang) on drum kit and myself on violin. Our aim was to produce a work for acoustic violin and drum kit that would be defined as neither classical nor experimental-pop but would evolve into a style through the collaborative process that transcends those different traditions. The second collaborative work was with Jason Jacobs, a contemporary dancer/choreographer based in Frankfurt. We aimed to produce a piece in which both music and dance were of equal importance, and where the artistic roles became progressively blurred.


Andrew Maddick is a professional musician based in Brisbane, Australia. He has composed music for short film and dance pieces and with singer/songwriters in Australia and the UK. As a freelance violinist he has performed, recorded and toured extensively with contemporary dance companies (Hofesh Shechter, Akram Khan); stage productions (Book Of Mormon, Kinky Boots, The Cherry Orchard); classical ensembles (English Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of The Swan); and contemporary artists (Sting, Paolo Nutini, The Whitlams).


David Crowden

This study develops our understanding of Isaac Nathan’s contribution to Australian musical identity in the 19th Century. Isaac Nathan is credited for being a visionary and an illustrious pioneer in Australian music, especially during the 1840’s.[1] Nathan studied with Domenico Corri, who in turn was a student of Nicola Porpora, and as such, Nathan provides a direct oral link to the Porpora Bel Canto Vocal Tradition. This first hand oral experience lends significance to two encyclopaedic vocal treatises that were written in florid academic English style. Nathan’s newly compiled catalogue includes over 100 compositions. The catalogue includes 7 operas, including Australia's first opera Merry Freaks in Troublous Times (1843) which pre-dates Don John in Austria (1846) and 7 Aboriginal Melodies transcribed in the 1840's. Several other significant publications have been found and added to the catalogue. Many of Nathan's compostions were written for his students. In Australia, he contributed to the development of music theory, composition, musicology and performance, but perhaps his most underated contribution is that to vocal pedagogy.  Nathan's students include Dame Marie Carandini, who was in turn a teacher of Dame Nellie Melba for a time. As such, there is a direct oral pedagogical link between Nicola Porpora to Dame Nellie Melba via Isaac Nathan. This study aims to shed light on the contributions and legacy of Isaac Nathan.



David Crowden, BMus (Melb, 2008) M.Mus (USyd, 2014) M.Teach (UNE,2017), is a current PhD candidate investigating Isaac Nathan and emerging musical identity in late nineteenth century Australia at the University of Queensland. His Master of Music Performance degree is in research practice on the baroque trumpet and as a countertenor from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  David works primarily as an educator and conductor in youth music programs and schools. In 2017 and 2018 he worked in Aboriginal communities in Tennant Creek and Elcho Island. While in Tennant Creek he started a regional choir, which performed with Opera Australia and was a celebrated in The Australian Women’s Weekly Magazine as a highlight of the national schools tour. David is currently teaching music in Hanoi, Vietnam.


About Research Seminar Series

Research seminars are presented by current staff, higher degree research students and visiting academics. 

The seminar series showcases our Higher Degree by Research candidates’ work, as well as providing valuable professional development opportunities for those interested in Higher Degree by Research. Visiting scholars are regularly invited to address staff and students, and the seminars are open to the public. Please register by following the link in the session below that you wish to attend.



Zelman Cowen Building, St Lucia Campus
Room 413