Friday, May 11, 2007

Medicine and Arts, The Teachings of Opera in Health and Education

"If we accept the premise that medical practice occurs within a larger cultural context, then it is a short step to the realization that the larger cultural context is going to inform and influence the understanding of disease and those
who suffer from it-inside and outside medical circles-"

About "Medicine in/as Culture:
The Teachings of Opera"
by Michael Hutcheon MD ,
Linda Hutcheon, Ph.D.

Dr. Michael Hutcheon, Professor of Medicine and Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Education at the University Health Network and Linda Hutcheon Ph.D., Professor of English and Comparative Literature, work collaboratively across disciplines at the intersections of medicine and culture ..theirs is truly a marriage of medicine and the arts. In a recent article in CCAHTE Journal Michael and Linda Hutcheon wrote about opera and its potential applications in medical education.

"...opera offers medical insights not only through its revealing cultural representations. The actual experience of watching and listening to opera with its determined combination of verbal narrative, powerful music and dramatic performance is an intense one. Opera directly and movingly deals with themes ranging from the terror of the longing for death (in Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde)..."

" educational terms studying this high impact kind of story in a medical setting not only teaches empathy and sympathy with the dying and the bereaved but is also helping those in the healing arts to come to terms with their own inevitable end."
"..our modern narratives of science and technology can only
go so far in teaching us about the death we must all finally face."

Quotes from the article Medicine in/as Culture,
The Teachings of Opera by Michael Hutcheon, MD and
Linda Hutcheon, Ph.D. , in CCAHTE Journal, March 07
Access complete March edition of CCAHTE
The Canadian Creative Arts in Health, Training and Education Journal at

Michael and Linda Hutcheon have published a
number of articles and three books, Opera: Desire, Disease, Death,
Bodily Charm: Living Opera, and Opera: The Art of Dying
see website

Access the full article and complete CCAHTE Journal March 07 issue free at subscribe to CCAHTE journal free with an email "please subscribe"

I thought you might appreciate watching and listening to this youtube video
Robert Alagna and Leontina Vaduva (La Boheme)

Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolade (final scene, orchestra) with Leonard Bernstein conducting.

"Few art forms are as thoroughly dependent as is tragic opera upon desire, suffering and death as narrative and emotional staples. The body..the live singing body...on stage gives voice to the drama of the suffering person."
Michael Hutcheon M.D. and Linda Hutcheon Ph.D.