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Musetta is, indeed, in a way 'male desire personified'. But I guess only in a way. What I like about her is that, at least on one way to tell her story (there are of course others, like presenting her as someone in constant need of external validation) she is fiercely independent. She makes this very clear both in Cafe Momus, and even more so in the (beautiful!) lovers/quarrellers quartet in act III (the end of which I find perhaps more touching than the end of the piece as a whole). She refuses to be constrained and controlled by the men in her life. So only male desire personified in one way, but she certainly doesn't want to act the way that the men in her life want her to behave.

I'm sorry to report that I have no idea how the claim that Musetta presents herself as male desire personified while refusing to be it, influences the fruitfulness of La Boheme as a way to explore the politics of desire, though!

(Also she's the only useful person in the room when poor Mimi is dying, the philosophers, poets and painters have very little to say indeed! )

eric Schliesser

Thank you for catching the note!
Let me just note there is some grey area between risk and usefulness.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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