About the Artist:
Ayana Smith is associate professor of music in musicology at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a specialist in Italian baroque opera.
Inspired by her background both in classics (B.A. with honors from Swarthmore College) and as a singer, she focuses on intersections between literature, reception of the classical past, and interpretation. Additional training in art history (Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies as an undergraduate, and, more recently, as a visiting fellow at the American Academy in Rome) has added new layers of interdisciplinary material to her research.
Her current book manuscript, Dreaming with Open Eyes, investigates the importance of visual culture to theories of literature and music drama within the Accademia degli Arcadi in late seventeenth-century Rome. This project analyzes several monuments to visual culture—Annibale Carracci’s frescoes in the Palazzo Farnese, Alessandro Guidi’s play L’Endimione (1688), Gianvincenzo Gravina’s treatise Discorso sopra l’Endimione (1691), Alessandro Scarlatti’s opera La Statira (1690), and Carlo Francesco Pollarolo’s opera La forza della virtù (1693)—while tracing the influence of Queen Christina of Sweden on the Roman aesthetic environment and constructing theories of interpretation for today’s scholars and performers.
Smith has published articles in the journals Eighteenth-Century Music, Music in Art, and Popular Music and in the volume Early Modern Rome. Articles in progress include “Images, Imagination, and Cartesian Subjectivities in Lully’s tragédies en musique” and “Catharsis and Character in Handel’s Rodrigo.”
She is a recipient of grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and Mellon Foundation. She completed her doctoral education at Yale University under the direction of Ellen Rosand.