Operatic versions of the femme fatale, the preeminent figure of European modernist aesthetics, compel and allure because we witness her coming into material presence through the course of her opera. Through vocalizing, the femme fatale manifests her corporeality under imminent threats of erasure by coopting and manipulating the offstage world as represented by the orchestra. The Seguidilla seduction scene in George Bizet's Carmen and the “Dance of the Seven Veils” in Richard Strauss's Salome raise the question of how subjectivity and material presence, especially of the femme fatale character, are depicted sonically, dramaturgically, and metaphysically.

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