Location: Bowdoin / Mary K. Hunter


Mary K. Hunter

A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Music

Contact Information


Gibson Hall - 201

Teaching this semester

MUS 1302 / THTR 1505. Introduction to Opera

Mary Hunter
Opera has the reputation of being a ridiculous and unnatural entertainment for the elite. There is something to that, but for the 400 years of its existence opera has also had audiences from many walks of life who have been essentially addicted to its pleasures. In addition, it is a genre that chronicles the preoccupations and anxieties of the places and times in which it is written and produced. Considers what opera is and where it fits in society; examines a number of representative works and excerpts; and ponders how phenomena like the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast affect opera’s place in society.

MUS 2304. Music in the Community

Mary Hunter
Develops a framework for designing projects that engage volunteers to bring music to underserved portions of our community. In order to maximize the thoughtfulness, efficacy, and sustainability of such projects, first considers what sorts of functions music-making can perform and for whom. Studies several music-based social programs in New England and further afield, many derived from the Venezuelan El Sistema project, which trains disadvantaged youth in orchestral playing. Pays particular attention to the ideological baggage they carry, as well as the class- and race-based questions of power they raise. Engages with local organizations to discuss local musical needs, and finally designs projects around those needs using the larger framework developed. Implementation of the projects is not the main point, but students may wish to put their projects into effect after the semester is over using the McKeen Center as a resource.

MUS 4040. Senior Project in Music

Robert Greenlee Mary Hunter Frank Mauceri Vineet Shende Darien Lamen
All senior majors must take this course, which involves either a single semester of independent work or the second semester of an honors thesis. In addition to weekly individual meetings with a faculty advisor, students meet as a group with the entire faculty several times during the semester. Must be taken in the spring of the senior year. Open only to senior music majors.

Mary Hunter

B.A. Sussex University
M.A., Ph.D. Cornell

Mary Hunter is a musicologist with interests in eighteenth-century opera, the history and ideology of performance, and music in culture. She has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society and the National Humanities Center.

She is the author of  The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart’s Vienna (Princeton, 1999), which won the American Musicological Society’s Kinkeldey Prize, and Mozart’s Operas: A Companion (Yale, 2008). She is the co-editor, with James Webster, of  Opera Buffa in Mozart’s Vienna (Cambridge 1997) and, with Richard Will, of Engaging Haydn: Culture, Context and Criticism (Cambridge 2012). She has been the editor of the Journal of Musicological Research,  the Cambridge Opera Journal, and AMS Studies in Music. The author of many articles in such journals as The Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, and Cambridge Opera Journal, and in many edited collections, she is currently working on a project about the ideology of performance in classical music culture.

Teaching interests include music theory, Classical period music, gender and music, Arabic music, and the history of performance. She is an active violinist, coaching chamber music at Bowdoin and playing in the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra as well as in several chamber groups.


culture The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna: A Poetics of Entertainment (Princeton University Press, 1999) Winner of the American Musicological Society's Kinkeldey Prize.

Mozart’s Operas: A Companion (Yale University Press 2008)

Edited Collections 

Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna (Cambridge University Press, in press). Co-edited with James Webster. (Cambridge, 1997)

Engaging Haydn: Culture, Context and Content (Cambridge 2012) Co-edited with Richard Will.

Selected Scholarly Articles

opera"Haydn's Sonata-Form Arias" in Current Musicology 37/38 (1984), 19-32.  

"'Pamela': the Offspring of Richardson's Heroine in Eighteenth-Century Opera" Mosaic 18/4  (Fall 1985) 61-76. Special issue on music and literature.

"The Fusion and Juxtaposition of Genres in Opera Buffa 1770-1800: Anelli and Piccinni's  Griselda" in Music and Letters 67 (1986), 363-380.

"Text, Music, and Drama in Haydn's Italian Opera Arias," The Journal of Musicology, 7, Winter 1989, 29-57.

"Se vuol ballare quoted: an early moment in the reception history of Figaro" in The Musical Times CXX, August 1989, 464-468.

"Igor and Tom: History and Destiny in The Rake's Progress," in The Opera Quarterly, Vol. 7 no. 3, Winter 1990 

"Così fan tutte et les conventions musicales de son temps" [English title before translation was "Tone and Convention in Così fan tutte"],  L'avant-scène opéra, no. 131-132, Mai/Juin 1990; 158-164.

"Some Representations of Opera Seria in Opera Buffa" Cambridge Opera Journal , vol. 3 no. 2 (July 1991), 89-108.

"Landscapes, Gardens and Gothic Sets in the Italian Opere Buffe of Mozart and his  Contemporaries", Current Musicology, 1993, vol. 51, 94-105.

"Window to the Work, or Mirror of our Preconceptions? Peter Sellars' production of Mozart's Così fan tutte"  repercussions, Vol.  4/2, Fall, 1995.

"Haydn's London Piano Trios and his Salomon String Quartets: Models of Public and Private Performance?" in Elaine Sisman, ed., Haydn and His World (Princeton University Press, 1997), 103-130 

"Rousseau, the Countess, and the Female Domain" Mozart Studies II , ed. Cliff Eisen. (Oxford University Press, 1998) 1-26. 

"The Alla Turca Style in the Late Eighteenth Century: Race and Gender in the Symphony and the Seraglio," in  Jonathan Bellman, ed., The Exotic in Western Music (Northeastern University Press, 1998), 43-73.

“Staging Mozart’s Women,” with Wendy Allanbrook and Gretchen Wheelock, in Siren Songs: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera, ed. Mary Ann  Smart (Princeton, 2000), 57-62.

"Teaching Music History in the Liberal Arts College," in Mary Natvig ed., Teaching Music History   (Ashgate Press, 2001)

"Opera in Film: Sentiment and wit, feeling and knowing, Shawshank Redemption and Prizzi's Honor, Between Opera and Cinema  ed. Jeongwon Joe and Rose Teresa (New York, Routlege, 2002), 93-120.

“Opera” in Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment  ed. Alan Kors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 205-212.

“The String Quartets” in The Cambridge Companion to Haydn, ed. Caryl Clark (Cambridge, 2005),

“To Play as if from the Soul of the Composer: The Idea of the Performer and Early Romantic Aesthetics,”  Journal of the American Musicological Society  58/2 (2005), 357-398.

“Nobility in Mozart’s Operas” in  Festschrift for Julian Rushton.  Boydell and Brewer, 2007.

The Most Interesting Genre of Music’: Performance, Sociability and Meaning in the Classical String Quartet, 1800–1830. In Nineteenth Century Music Review 9/1 June 2012, 53-74.

“Fingerings in Haydn’s String Quartets:  Communications to Performer and Listener,” in Engaging Haydn: Culture, Context and Content (Cambridge 2012)

“Historical Performance and Opera,”  The Oxford Handbook of Opera , ed. Helen Greenwald. (Oxford UP: 2014) 606-28.

“Topoi and Opera Buffa,”  The Oxford Handbook of Topoi ed. Danuta Mirka (Oxford UP: 2014) 61-89.

“Classical Performers and Reflection,”  Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance ed John Rink, Helena Gaunt and Aaron Williamon (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming).

“Unisons in Haydn’s String Quartets,”  HAYDN: The Online Journal of the Haydn Society of North America, Vol. 3.3 (Spring 2013) n.p.

Recent  Papers Delivered

“Amateurism in the Context of Thomas Jefferson’s Household”: invited paper at Jefferson’s Soundscapes conference, University of Virginia, March 2012

“Topoi and opera buffa” Invited paper read at Cornell University conference honoring James Webster, October 2012

“The Classical Performer’s Sense of Self.” Read at the Performance Studies Network Conference, Cambridge UK. April 2013.

“Busts, Bust-Tokens and Historical Performance,” Read at the Performance Studies Network Conference, Cambridge UK July 2014.  Revised and expanded version, “Why Does  the Juilliard Gift Shop Sell Cheap Plastic Busts?” read in colloquia at Berkeley and Stanford, October 2014; repeated at Williams College, February 2015. 

“It Goes Like This: Werktreue and the Rhetoric of Agency in Classical Music Performance” read at Cambridge University Music Department colloquium, March 2015, and American Musicological Society, November 2015.