Melina Esse

Melina Esse

Associate Professor of Musicology



Melina Esse received her Ph.D. in music history and literature from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was recognized for excellence in teaching. Her research interests include opera and melodrama, film sound, performance theory, and gender studies. At Eastman, Professor Esse has taught courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century music history, visual spectacle and the modern voice, and singers in nineteenth-century opera. She has published in the Cambridge Opera Journal (2002) and has presented papers to the American Musicological Society, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the American Society for Theater Research, the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism, the Feminist Theory and Music conference, and the San Francisco and Minnesota Operas. A fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities in 2003-04, she was also the recipient of the Alvin H. Johnson AMS-50 dissertation fellowship and the Mabelle McLeod- Lewis Memorial Fund fellowship.

Works / Publications


  • “Performing Sentiment, or How to Do Things with Tears.” Women and Music 14 (2010): 1-21.
  • Guest editor, Opera Quarterly: Mediating Opera 26, no. 1 (Winter 2010).
  • “A Note from the Guest Editor.” Opera Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 1-3.
  • “Don’t Look Now: Opera, Liveness, and the Televisual.” Opera Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 81-95.
  • “Donizetti’s Gothic Resurrections.” Nineteenth-Century Music 33, no. 2 (Fall 2009): 81-109.
  • “Rossini’s Noisy Bodies.” Cambridge Opera Journal 21, no. 1 (March 2009): 27-64.
  • “Speaking and Sighing: Bellini’s canto declamato and the Poetics of Restraint.” Current Musicology 87 (Spring 2009): 7-45.
  • “Hugo von Hofmannsthal.” Brief article published in the Lyric Season Companion: 2005/2006 (Chicago: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2005).
  • “‘Chi piange, qual forza m’arretra?': Verdi’s Interior Voices.” Cambridge Opera Journal 14, nos. 1-2 (March 2002): 59-78.
  • Review of En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera, edited by Corinne E. Blackmer and Patricia Juliana Smith. Jointly authored with Holly Watkins. GLSG: Newsletter of the Gay and Lesbian Study Group of the American Musicological Society, October, 1997.

Works in Progress

  • Saffo’s Lyre: Neoclassicism and Improvisation in Italian Opera. Book in progress.