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ItemOpera, publicity, disability: a case study of the public persona of Marjorie LawrenceLincoln-Hyde, Ellan A. ( 2018)This thesis is an investigation of the public life of the Australian dramatic soprano Marjorie Florence Lawrence (b. Deans Marsh, Victoria 1907 – d. Little Rock, Arkansas 1979). Lawrence, who begun her professional stage career in Monte Carlo in 1932, was permanently paralysed from the waist down in 1941 after contracting poliomyelitis (at the time better known as infantile paralysis, now commonly referred to as polio). Despite the considerable challenges facing performers with disability in the pre-disability right era, Lawrence continued to perform in staged operas, concerts, and troop tours around the world. Lawrence published her autobiography in 1949, several decades before the end of her performing career and several years before the beginning of her first teaching position. Given that the basic biography of the singer is still relatively unknown the thesis starts with a brief outline of Lawrence’s biography, focusing on the years leading up to her paralysis. Chapter 1 examines her position as a role model and ambassador for people with a disability in the United States in the wake of several polio epidemics and an influx of returned servicemen with war injuries. Her affiliation with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is also explored in conjunction with an analysis the solutions Lawrence used to enable her return to the stage. Chapter 2 focuses on the complexity of her public persona and behaviours in the context of the ‘prima donna’ and ‘diva’ categorisations often used in literature concerning the biography of female opera singers. To investigate this, a case study of Lawrence’s interactions with high ranking military and civilian officials during her 1944 troop is used. Chapter 3 is a documentation and reflection on the previously under-researched topic of Lawrence’s role as a university professor at Southern Illinois University, particularly regarding the production of Joplin’s Treemonisha. Research in this thesis is based on archival documents, historical news sources and on new interviews with colleagues and students of Lawrence and family members. This research, conducted in situ across Australia and the United States, allows a more-rounded perspective on perceptions of Lawrence’s career, teaching and personal interactions and introduces Lawrence’s own voice through her letters.
ItemMarjorie Lawrence’s Australian and European troop tours, 1944-1946Lincoln-Hyde, Ellan A. ( 2016)In 1944 While the Australian Army battled Japanese troops in New Guinea and the Allied Nations continued the fight against Axis forces in Europe, a performance of German operatic works sung by Marjorie Lawrence was being cheered on at a remote army base in Australia’s Northern Territory. By 1946 Lawrence was singing the same German repertoire in Berlin to an audience of United States, Russian, French and British Generals accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic. This dissertation aims to answer why an opera singer was chosen to entertain one of the biggest military audiences of World War II in Australia, why an Australian was chosen to sing at the highly diplomatic Berlin concert in 1946, why Lawrence was singing Wagner, Richard Strauss and other German composers’ works to Allied forces at all and on both occasions, why Lawrence sang the repertoire she did.