Michael Kinney in a Ph.D. candidate in musicology writing on vocality, aging, and disability in operatic performance cultures. In his dissertation, titled, “Hearing Beyond Vocal Twilight: Aging Vocality in Contemporary American Operatic Performance,” Michael asks what we learn about operatic vocality — and voice more generally — when aging and old singers are centered. By interviewing professional singers, listening to archival voices, and interrogating critics’ reception to aging voices, he argues that voices remain in constant flux over the life course and have the potential to generate new meanings of aging. Listening to the sounds of these voices opens conversations on the cultural significance of aging in vocal arts, pushing listeners to hear at the limits of opera’s aesthetics and to question concepts of beauty, purity, and vocal perfection.
Outside his dissertation, Michael is also working on a project exploring the Black feminist potential of Leontyne Price’s early career, focused on reception histories of her operatic performances from 1958-1961. His other areas of interest include musical theatre, queer identities in music, and affect studies.
His work is currently supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.