Professor of Music and Director of the Program in Italian Studies, Wendy Heller specializes in the music of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, with emphasis on the study of opera from interdisciplinary perspectives, particularly gender and sexuality, dance, art history, and the classical tradition. Author of the award-winning Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice, the first major study of gender and sexuality in Italian baroque opera, Heller’s has earned numerous fellowships and prizes from such organizations as the ACLS, the Mellon Foundation, the NEH, and the Gladys Krieble Delams Foundation. Winner of the Rome Prize in Post-Classical Humanist Studies, Heller has also been a been a Mellon Fellow at the Society of Fellows at Columbia University, a Visiting Fellow at New College Oxford, an appointee at the Villa I Tatti Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies (as winner of the Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars) and was also the Sylvan C. and Pamela Coleman Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2014, she was appointed an Old Dominion Professor through the Council of the Humanities at Princeton.
Trained as a singer at New England Conservatory before receiving her PhD in musicology at Brandeis University, Heller’s scholarship is also strongly influenced by her extensive performing experience, and has been a driving force behind the production of baroque operas at Princeton, most recently serving as dramaturg for Princeton University Opera Theater’s 2014 production of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Her other research interests include women and music, Jewish music, performance studies, and the history of opera from its inception to the present day.
Heller is also the author of Music in the Baroque and its companion volume Anthology of Music in the Baroque (W. W. Norton, 2013), which treat music of the seventeenth and early eighteenth-centuries in terms of its cultural and social context. She is currently completing a book entitled Animating Ovid: Opera and the Metamorphoses of Antiquity in Early Modern Italy and critical editions of Handel’s Admeto and Francesco Cavalli’s Veremonda Amazzone d’Aragona. Recent graduate seminars in musicology at Princeton include “Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea”; “Handel’s London”; “Editing Opera from Cavalli to Puccini (taught with Ellen Lockhart).
Music in the Baroque . Western Music in Context: A Norton History (New York: W.W. Norton, 2013)
“The Veil, the Mask, and the Eunuch: Sight, Sound, and Imperial Erotics in L’incoronazione di Poppea,” in Word, Image, and Song, edited by Rebecca Cypess, Beth Glixon, and Nathan Link (University of Rochester Press, 2013), 145-166.
“Hypsipyle, Medea, and the Ovidian Imagination: Taming the Hero in Cavalli’s Giasone,” in Readying Cavalli’s Operas for the Stage: Manuscript, Edition, Production, ed. Ellen Rosand (Farnham, Surrey, UK; Burlington, VT, 2013), 167-186.
“Daphne’s Dilemma: Desire as Metamorphosis in Early Modern Opera,” in Structures of Feeling in Seventeenth-Century Expressive Culture (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013), 175-208.
“Dancing Statues and the Myth of Venice: Ancient Sculpture on the Opera Stage,” Art History 33 (2010), 304-313. Reprinted in Theatricality in Art and Architecture , ed. Caroline van Eck and Stijn Bussels (West Sussex: Blackwell, 2011).
“The Beloved’s Image: Handel’s Admeto and the Statue of Alcestis,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 58 no. 3 (2005), 559-637.
Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth Century Venice (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2003).