The Nurse in History and Opera

From Servant to Sister

The Nurse in History and Opera: From Servant to Sister - Book Cover

From Scarabea, Artusa’s old nurse in Francesco Mannelli’s La Maga Fuminata (1638 Venice) through the Canadian nursing sisters in Stephanie Martin’s Llandovery Castle (2018 Toronto), over one hundred nurse characters appear in opera roles ranging from silent cast extra to principal singer. The Nurse in History and Opera: From Servant to Sister explores that role over the span of opera’s existence.

Judith Barger examines the nurse character in opera within the sociohistorical context of her real-life counterparts off stage; the progression of the nurse from servant to sister, both inside and outside the opera house, is a commentary on how society has viewed its women. The book then discusses textual and musical interactions between opera’s nurses and other characters with attention to what the nurse’s role contributes to opera in six categories identified as common to opera’s nurses – Comic, Former, Knowledgeable, Motherly, Scheming, and Specialized.

When viewed through the lens of social history, opera’s nurse characters merit attention for the glimpse that they offer of a unique musical and dramatic journey from servant to sister, and for the commentary that they offer on women’s perceived place and status not only on the opera stage, but in society as well.

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Introductory Chapter in The Nurse in History and Opera: From Servant to Sister

From Scarabea, Artusa’s old nurse in Francesco Mannelli’s La Maga Fuminata (1638 Venice) through the Canadian nursing sisters in Stephanie Martin’s Llandovery Castle (2018 Toronto), over one hundred nurse characters have been included in opera casts. The nurse, however, is not a character that immediately comes to mind when thinking about opera. If thought of at all, she – for the nurse almost always is a woman or in some cases a man en travesty – generally is included among the numerous other supporting characters designated as attendant, companion, confidante, duenna, friend, governess, maid, servant, or slave of the opera’s heroine, and occasionally its hero.1 Unlike characters whose identity remains fixed across cast lists for an opera, the nurse character in one cast list occasionally is identified by one of these other designations in another cast list for the same opera, perhaps due to an imprecise translation from the original language. For example, Gilda’s nurse Giovanni in Giuseppi Verdi’s Rigoletto (1851 Venice) is identified variously as a duenna, companion, minder, and nurse, and Eva’s nurse Magdalene in Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868 Munich), as her companion in one list and as her nurse in another. Such designations have much to do with the nurse’s functions or duties when her mistress or master is no longer a child. 

In other cases, the nurse is cast in a dual role, and the second role takes precedence over the first. Tatyana’s nurse Filipyevna in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (1879 Moscow) is also servant to Tatyana’s mother Madame Larina, and Senta’s nurse Mary in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (1843 Dresden) is also housekeeper to Senta’s father Daland. These dual roles suggest a woman who has been with the fam- ily a long time, having served initially as nurse to a much younger Tatyana and Senta. 

In Raymond Leppard’s performance edition of Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (1643 Venice), Empress Octavia’s nurse Nutrice is eliminated from the cast, with some of her actions assigned to Drusilla as lady-in-waiting to the empress. While some of these variances concerning the nurse character may be attributed simply to translation decisions, or perhaps to economy in casting, the choice to substitute another character for that of the nurse tends to obscure what sets the nurse apart from other characters who interact with opera’s leading ladies and opera’s leading men. 

Nor is the nurse character always recognized as a nurse. In Pierre-Octave Ferroud’s Surgery (1928 Monte Carlo), the nurse is a man who extracts teeth – badly; in Oliver Knussen’s Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1990 Los Angeles), based on Maurice Sendak’s popular children’s book of the same title, Jennie, who seeks experience as a nurse, is a Sealyham terrier cast as a mezzo soprano. Whether Jennie actually acts as a nurse is open to interpretation, but in a rare show of heroic action, she sticks her head into a lion’s mouth to save a stubborn baby who has refused to eat, qualifying her at least as an honorary operatic nursemaid. 

Hannah, identified as a Black hospital nurse in the cast list for Michael Tippet’s The Ice Break (1977 London), is the closest operatic equivalent to the familiar stereotypical nurse seen in modern-day health care settings – the “medical” or “hospital” nurse. When her friend Yuri is seriously injured in a street riot and is rushed to hospital, nurse Hannah first consoles his father Lev before showing up for work where, once Yuri has healed, she wheels her plaster-encased patient on a gurney into the operating room and helps to remove his cast. Hannah then rolls Yuri out of the operating room in a wheelchair to see his father. In the premiere performance at Covent Garden, Hannah is dressed in a standard white nurse dress and cap of the 1970s. In the 2015 Birmingham (UK) Opera Company revival of The Ice Break, a bareheaded Hannah wears a pantsuit uniform, which became popular nurse attire in the 1970s. 

In operas with settings prior to the mid nineteenth century, the nurse character seen and heard on the opera stage does not fit the picture of what today’s operagoers might consider a typical nurse. She is not identified as a nurse by her costume, nor do her actions suggest the type of nursing associated with current perceptions of health care. The professional nurse did not exist until advances in medicine, the “problem” of “surplus” unmarried gentlewomen, and the British army’s mismanagement of its sick and wounded soldiers in the Crimean War (1853–1856) converged in mid nineteenth-century England to highlight the need for a new kind of nurse. Although Florence Nightingale, who established the first secular training school for nurses in 1860 at Saint Thomas Hospital in London, is credited with starting nurses on the track toward professionalism, the first steps had been taken in the German town of Kaiserswerth with the founding of the Kaiserswerth Deaconess Institute in 1836. The institute served as a model for Protestant sisterhoods in England begun in the next decade, most notably the Anglican Order of Saint John the Evangelist – known as Saint John’s House – that opened its Training Institution for Nurses for Hospitals, Families, and the Sick Poor in 1849. Prior to these initiatives – and in many cultures well after – nursing fell primarily to untrained female family members and household servants in the home; hospitalizations were not common. 

Two operas with settings during the Crimean War – David McKinley Williams’s Florence Nightingale (1943 New York City) and Timothy Sullivan’s Florence: The Lady with the Lamp (1992 Elora, Ontario), which feature Nightingale and her team of nurses working with sick and wounded soldiers in the Crimea – offer a glimpse of nursing’s earliest strides toward professional status.2 That status is more evident in operas set in World War I and in World War II. Llandovery Castle recounts the last hours of fourteen Canadian military nurses who perished at sea after the eponymous hospital ship on which they were traveling was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland toward the end of World War I. Marina in Vano Muradeli’s October (1962 Moscow) is a nurse at the Front during Russia’s 1917 Revolution; Klavdia in Sergey Prokofiev’s The Story of a Real Man (1960 Moscow) is the nurse in charge of a ward of wounded army officers in a World War II Soviet military hospital in Moscow. 

The origin of the word “nurse” dates back to the medieval English contraction of the French nourrice taken from the Latin nutricia (feminine) or nutricus (masculine) – someone who nourishes – and its verb to nurse or nourish. In the thirteenth century, norice and nutrice referred to a wet nurse, foster mother, or nanny. The English word “nurse” came into use by the late fourteenth century, and in the fifteenth century, nurse designated someone who protected, nurtured, trained, and also cherished another. By the late sixteenth century, nurse referred to a female servant as children’s nurse – technically, a dry nurse as opposed to a wet nurse. The more modern definition of nurse as someone who cares for the sick or infirm dates from the early fifteenth century. What is significant is that the designation “nurse” encompasses a number of different functions that only in more recent times include employment in or for a health care institution. 

This book is about the nurse character in opera. Rather than adhere to a strict definition of the term “nurse,” I have accepted the composer’s and librettist’s decision to use that character designation in an opera, however they chose to depict it. In English, the gender-neutral word “nurse” does not distinguish among varied preparation and experience, area of specialty, and work location. Cast lists translated into English may lose the specificity of the term “nurse” found in the original languages in which a libretto is written; for instance, the gender specific l’infirmière (f) and l’infirmier (m) in French, la infermiera (f) and il infermiere (m) in Italian, and die Krankenpflegerin (f) and der Krankenpfleger (m) in German. These languages also have separate words for infants’ and children’s nurses – la nourrice (French), la bambinaia (Italian), and die Kinderfrau (German), translated in English as wet nurse, nanny, and nursemaid. While my decision might introduce some ambiguity in just what is a nurse, it also allows broad treatment of the many ways in which nursing is portrayed on the opera stage. The nurse characters in opera are as diverse as the performances in which they have a role, which include children’s opera, chamber opera, and operetta. 

My criterion for identifying opera’s nurse characters as I viewed performances, studied librettos and music scores, and perused monographs, essays, articles, reviews, and anthologies about opera was that the character is identified as a nurse of some type in at least one cast list, in English or another language. Thus, wet nurses and nursemaids or nursery maids and other children’s nurses are represented, as well as a character with nursing aspirations and two who disguise themselves as nurses. Likewise former nurses also are included. I did not, however, include characters semantically related to the nurse such as duenna and governess unless also listed in the cast as a nurse. 

Over one hundred operas composed from the mid seventeenth century through the early twenty-first century, listed in the appendix to this book, have at least one nurse character in the cast, but little has been written about the nurse whose presence ranges from silent cast extra to principal singer, from offstage to center stage.3 Why include a nurse? What is the significance of the role? What does the nurse contribute to opera that other characters do not? And how can this insight inform our understanding not only of specific operas, but also of opera in general? These questions have guided my research. 

My approach to the topic of the nurse character in opera is both chronological and conceptual. I focus first on a chronological social history of nursing outside the opera house. I then examine from a conceptual standpoint how nurse characters appear on the opera stage, with their historical colleagues as context. 

To understand the nurse character’s role in opera, it is important to view that role within the wider social context in which nursing developed and was practiced and from women’s perceived place and status in society, which differed by country and by social class. One must consider as well the purpose for portraying the onstage nurse character in a certain light. For example, Wendy Heller notes the operatic convention of mid seventeenth-century Venetian opera seen in the “misogynist male servants and proto-feminist elderly nurses” that reflected librettists’ ambiguity about women.4 Misogyny was still apparent in mid nineteenth-century British society when in Florence: The Lady with the Lamp, Nightingale’s cadre of nurses on their arrival in the Crimea encounter medical officers who expect themselves, not the patients, to be the recipients of the nurses’ “tender loving care.” 

I focus on three key sociohistorical stages of nursing with relevance to nurses’ portrayal on the opera stage. In classical antiquity, nurses, initially slaves and later of the servant class, often began their nursing duties as wet nurses. By the nineteenth century, nurses in England had moved out of the home into the community as handywomen or hirelings and into the hospital setting where the title “Sister” came into use first for nurses socially above the working class, then for the newly educated gentlewomen. Wet nurses were on a parallel track with nurses that converged in name only when, once the child was weaned and the former wet nurse given other duties, she still was referred to by the nurse designation. In the nineteenth century and beyond, the advent of war advanced nursing practice for women, particularly in the military in Europe and in North America. 

It also is instructive to consider the nurse’s depiction in the literary and dramatic sources from which librettist and composer drew their inspiration to learn how the nurse role transferred to – if indeed it did – and was modified for the operatic stage. The Nurse in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet offers one well-known example; Winton Dean has identified two dozen operas based on this source, not all of them casting the nurse character.5 

The type and amount of stage time varies for opera’s nurses. As is true in the sources from which the characters are drawn, seldom is the nurse center stage, unless she is shadowing the leading lady or man or is engaging in a comic romp with other minor characters. Some, such as the Nurse in Lehman Engel’s The Soldier (1956 New York City) and Buda in Michael William Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl (1843 London), have only speaking roles; in the 1996 Glyndebourne production of Alban Berg’s Lulu (1937 Zurich) a nurse appears briefly in a silent role on film as a cast extra. Other nurses, such as Die Amme in Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919 Vienna) and Nurse in Ariane et Barbe-bleue by Paul Dukas (1907 Paris), open the opera with their singing and remain in a prominent role throughout. Matron Margaret Marjory “Pearl” Fraser and Nursing Sisters Rena “Bird” McLean and Minnie Katherine “Kate” Gallaher are the leading ladies in Llandovery Castle. Nurses Martha in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta (1892 Saint Petersburg) and Margarita in Pietro Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff (1895 Milan) sing the first words of their respective operas but are not the focus of the scene and soon fade into the background. 

In this study I define role as the part of “nurse” performed by a character in opera. Within that role, the nurse fills a function, which I define as her special purpose in a given opera. Just as nurses throughout history have performed different functions within their place of servitude or employment, opera’s nurse characters likewise exhibit a variety of functions, which can be categorized. As part of her function, the nurse engages in activities or duties, both verbal and nonverbal, which include her interactions with other characters, musically and otherwise. 

Three Romeo and Juliet operas include a nurse role modeled on Shakespeare’s Nurse character. But each opera gives the nurse character a different function. In Heinrich Sutermeister’s Romeo und Julia (1940 Dresden), Die Amme gives the backstory of Juliet as her nursling found in Shakespeare’s drama. In Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (1867 Paris) in a scene not found in Shakespeare, nurse Gertrude comically fends off the servants in the garden the night of the Capulet ball before they can discover Romeo, who is wooing Juliet. In Boris Blacher’s Romeo und Julia (1950 Salzburg) as in Shakespeare, Die Amme meets with Romeo the day after the ball to ascertain if his intentions are honorable. None of the nurses performs all three functions in her opera. 

I used content analysis as my methodology to determine categories of the nurse role in opera and to determine the functions manifested in each category. From a careful study of all the operas for which I had available printed and audiovisual sources, I identified over three dozen functions in which the nurse characters engage. I then noted the frequency of those functions across all of those operas. Overarching patterns of functions emerged that I grouped into six categories, followed by the activities or duties subsumed within each category: 

Comic Nurses
Men cross-dressed as female nurses, advisers in affairs of love, and the objects of comic relief. 

Former Nurses
Crones, old, superannuated, and senile nurses now with non-nurse designations, and those now acting as companions and guardians of reputation and safety as chaperones and doorkeepers or gatekeepers. 

Knowledgeable Nurses
Messengers and those who impart information such as backstory, who warn, serve as the voice of conscience or philosophize, and who provide key recognition of and revelation about other characters. 

Motherly Nurses
Wet nurses, children’s nurses and nursemaids or nursery maids, foster mothers, surrogate mothers, confidantes, those who cheer, calm, console, soothe, and occasionally rebuke, and those who lose their young charges. 

Scheming Nurses
Accomplices, a bawd, a messenger from the land of the dead, sorceresses, and witches. 

Specialized Nurses
Hospital, clinic, military, and wartime nurses and a cloistered nurse. 

The activities or duties of nurse characters are fluid and overlap, so that the nurse character could and usually does appear in more than one category. For instance, Arnalta, Poppea’s nurse in L’incoronazione di Poppea, a Comic Nurse, advises her mis- tress in affairs of love, but is also a companion and chaperone (under Former Nurses) who shows her maternal side (Motherly Nurses) when she sings Poppea a lullaby. When Poppea is about to be crowned Empress, Arnalta philosophizes about her own elevation in life (under Knowledgeable Nurses) in a scene often made more comic when the role is played by a cross-dressed man, such as Curtis Rayam’s interpretation of Arnalta in the 1993 Schwetzingen Festival performance of L’incoronazione di Poppea.6 All six categories taken together provide a useful structure by which to consider the extensive array of nurse characters and characteristics found on the opera stage. 

My study of the nurse character in opera took me in many directions in order to illuminate her role within and across operas. Although the topics I cover may appear unconnected, they intertwine through the agency of the nurse’s image, whether on- or offstage. My reading on the social history of nursing from a sociological perspective revealed a strong link between nursing and drama that draws on the seminal work of sociologist Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life in which he uses a dramaturgical analogy to develop his concept of impression management.7 Nursing faculties have applied the concept when teaching students how to think like nurses through role-playing. Colin Adrian Holmes, a nurse educator from Australia, notes that nurses often think of nursing as a form of drama, with the clinical setting as their metaphorical stage.8 

Closely related to both the social history of nursing and nursing as drama is the image that nurses project to the public and the image that the public projects onto nurses in the form of stereotypical behavior. That image has changed over the centuries, and within any particular time frame several different images or stereotypes may coexist. In The Changing Image of the Nurse, Philip Kalisch and Beatrice Kalisch show how the mass media influenced public perceptions of nursing care in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in nurses’ progression from Angel of Mercy to Girl Friday, Heroine, Wife and Mother, Sex Object, and finally Careerist.9 For Philip Darbyshire and Suzanne Gordon in “Exploring Popular Images and Representations of Nurses and Nursing,” the list is shorter yet equally stereotypical: angel, handmaiden, battle-ax, and naughty.10 Opera’s nurse characters play out these same stereotypes. 

A nurse’s uniform can contribute to or shatter that stereotype. For Nightingale, nurse uniforms were “a mere practical matter,” visible today in the scrubs and, if military, BDUs (camouflaged combat battle dress uniforms) worn by health care workers. But for Pastor Theodore Fliedner, who founded the Kaiserswerth Deaconess Institute and whom Irene Poplin credits with having invented the nurse uniform, “The uniform established an image of respectability and competence for nurses: a necessary antecedent to societal changes that allowed respectable women to be employed as nurses in public hospitals.”11 

The progression of the public’s perception of nursing and nurses’ perception of their career path toward professionalism, seen even in the changes in nurse attire, bring to mind the concept of a journey such as the recurring archetypal narrative found in the stories of mythological heroes that Joseph Campbell identifies in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.12 Campbell’s multiple steps that take the hero through stages of departure or separation, initiation into a transformative experience, and return with reward have been applied to the heroes and heroines – protagonists and antagonists – of literature and film in such classics as The Wizard of Oz. Heroes and heroines of opera also follow Campbell’s trajectory, and in some cases the heroine is a nurse. The obstacles that Florence Nightingale had to overcome to pursue her chosen career as a nurse, only a part of which is depicted in Williams’s Florence Nightingale and Sullivan’s Florence: The Lady with the Lamp, offer one example; Jennie in Higglety Pigglety Pop! makes a literal and figurative journey as she searches for meaning in life. Her quest eventually lands her the role of leading lady in a World Mother Goose Theatre production. 

Other nurses make a literal journey. Nurse Avra journeys with her mistress Judith from village to enemy camp in Alexander Serov’s Judith (1863 Saint Petersburg) based on the book of the same name found in the Apocrypha. Only Judith, however, embarks on a hero’s journey. And the Canadian Nursing Sisters on HMHS Llandovery Castle sail across the Atlantic. In Die Frau ohne Schatten both the empress heroine and her nurse Die Amme go on their own literal and figurative archetypal journeys together, ultimately with conflicting agendas, when they travel from the Southeastern Islands to the World of Men in search of a shadow and are whisked back to the domain of Keikobad, Ruler of the Spirit World, when the situation goes awry. 

Screenwriter Christopher Vogler, a story consultant for Walt Disney Studios, adapted Campbell’s work as the foundation for The Writer’s Journey, which offers creative building blocks for storytelling, whether in print or on the screen.13 The idea of the hero’s journey as a recurring theme with infinite variations resonates with opera as a medium for musical storytelling. 

Some of those stories are about nurses. When the nurse has a prominent role within an opera, as do Florence Nightingale and the Canadian Nursing Sisters of Llandovery Castle, Jennie in Higglety Pigglety Pop!, and Die Amme in Die Frau ohne Schatten, the character’s story may progress through the stages of the hero’s journey, which brings to mind the related concept of a character’s destiny. Such journeys, however, are rare for nurses in opera. Viewing the nurse’s journey through a wider lens, I consider whether the story of nursing from servant to sister and beyond in the quest to forge a professional identity offstage in the wider world is reflected onstage across operas with a nurse character from the mid seventeenth through the early twenty-first centuries. Physician authors see evidence of the progression of the medical profession on the opera stage; I consider whether the nurse character has followed a similar path on the opera stage as the nursing profession advanced and gained social acceptance.14 

To enact order upon the numerous possibilities for discussing the role of the nurse in the hundred-plus operas with nurse characters, I have organized the book around the six identified categories of opera nurses. Within each category, I discuss how the nurse characters are portrayed both visually and vocally. Some operas and their nurse characters receive more coverage than others. I intentionally include examples from a wide range of operas, well and lesser known, to show the ubiquity of nurse characters throughout operatic history and the number of activities or duties in which they engage. For each category, I dwell at length on one or more operas that offer extensive insights into the role of the nurse characters and their backgrounds, telling their stories in detail. I use English translations of operatic literature when available. 

Musical analysis is limited to a few operas whose nurse characters make significant contributions to the operatic plot both musically and dramatically. I include no musical scores in the book but rather focus on the sound of a passage brought to mind from descriptions of the music rather than on its visual reinforcement in notated form.15 

Since the categories of functions are not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive, the nurses may appear in more than one chapter, offering an example of multitasking within their operas. When relevant, I compare the operatic treatment of the nurse to her literary or dramatic counterparts to highlight what sets her apart from the scripted character. 

In the next three chapters I discuss in more detail the social history of nursing, drama in nursing, the changing image of the nurse, and nursing as a journey. I am interested in both the societal and operatic implications of the topics. With this backdrop in place, in the main body of the book I look closely at the nurse characters themselves, devoting a chapter each to the category of Comic Nurses, Former Nurses, Knowledgeable Nurses, Motherly Nurses, Scheming Nurses, and Specialized Nurses on the opera stage, both dramatically and musically. 

In the final chapter I discuss the significance of the nurse character’s role in her various guises and the contributions that she makes to opera. It remains to be discovered how closely the roles of the numerous supernumeraries with whom the leading ladies interact may coincide with or even replace that of the nurse in opera. What about cast lists in which both a nurse and another attendant to the leading lady such as maid, companion, confidante, or friend are included? Given the occasional blurring of these roles, what is unique about the nurse character that sets her apart from her non-nurse sisters and merits our attention? And how might this knowledge change our perception of the operas in which a nurse is cast? 

Comparison of Leppard’s Drusilla with Nutrice in the original cast list of L’incoronazione di Poppea offers a starting point. I then contrast the roles of nurse Ericlea and maid Melanto in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640 Venice) to show how a nurse and a servant in the same opera react differently to Penelope’s continued chastity during her husband’s prolonged absence from home for the Trojan War. I draw on screenwriter Dan Decker’s Window Character, who, similar to the Greek chorus, offers insight into the main character’s psyche; I suggest how this standard dramatic convention given to servants might differ when assigned to the nurse character.16 Finally, I apply the concept of subjectivity, as defined by Bruce Young and Jeanne Addison Roberts, to the nurse character.17 Young and Roberts independently consider whether Shakespeare’s imaginary characters can be said to possess subjectivity, which Young defines as “personal identity and experience that may be described as significant and substantial.”18 

Closely related to the concept of subjectivity is that of destiny, which Roberts identifies as a criterion of subjectivity when a female character in Shakespearian drama acts in a way that shapes her own destiny rather than continuing to suffer as a victim. I apply the concept to opera to determine if nurse characters shape their own destiny, or help to shape that of their mistresses or masters, as a measure of their own subjectivity. Being in control of one’s own destiny brings to mind not only nurses’ individual journeys within opera, but also the journey of nurses across operas from stereotyped servant in the shadows to nursing sister on center stage. 


1. I use the feminine pronoun when referring to opera’s nurses in general or to a specific nurse, unless the character is a male cast as a male. 

2. Canadian composer Timothy Sullivan (b. 1954) is not to be confused with British composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). 

3. I have not found any information about Margery, the nurse character in Romeo the Radical and Juliet the Jingo; or, Obstruction and Effect, identified as “a political comic opera in one act” composed by Charles P. Emery (1892 Walsall) other than that the part was performed by Rose Emery in the premiere. Kurt Gänzl writes: “Romeo the Radical, put together by Charles Percy Emery, transposed some of the events of Shakespeare’s play into a political setting and was kept carefully up-to-date with strings of topical allusions and puns.” Its advertisement gives some idea of the entertainment it provided: “Romeo the Radical and Juliet the Jingo or Obstruction and Effect. A Parley-mentory sitting in eight lively debates introducing Harmony without Opposition or Discord and comical motions without suspension, the entire bill being carried with acclamation and without division.” See Kurt Gänzl, British Musical Theatre, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 213, 204. 

4. Wendy Heller, Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 1. 

5. See Winton Dean, “Shakespeare and Opera,” in Shakespeare in Music: Essays by John Stevens, Charles Cudworth, Winton Dean, Roger Fiske, ed. Phyllis Hartnoll (London: Macmillan, 1964), 145; “Catalogue of Musical Works Based on the Plays and Poetry of Shakespeare,” comp. Winton Dean, Dorothy Moore, and Phyllis Hartnoll, in Shakespeare in Music, ed. Phyllis Hartnoll (London: Macmillan, 1964), 270; Winton Dean, “Shakespeare in the Opera House,” in Shakespeare Survey: An Annual Survey of Shakespearean Study and Production, 18, ed. Allardyce Nicoll (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965). 91. 

6. Claudio Monteverdi, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Concerto Köln, cond. René Jacobs, 1993 Schwetzingen Festival (Arthaus Musik DVD, 2013). 

7. Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959). 

8. Colin Adrian Holmes, “The Drama of Nursing,” Journal of Advanced Nursing 17 (1992): 941–50. 

9. Philip A. Kalisch and Beatrice J. Kalisch, The Changing Image of the Nurse (Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley, 1987). 

10. Philip Darbyshire and Suzanne Gordon, “Exploring Popular Images and Representations of Nurses and Nursing,” in Professional Nursing: Concepts, Issues, and Challenges, ed. John Daley, Sandra Speedy, Deborah Jackson, Vickie Lambert, and Clinton Lambert, 69–91 (New York: Springer, 2005). Male nurses are subject to stereotypes as well; Randy Gross identifies four – Not Smart Enough for Medical School; Effete Homosexual; Hypermasculinized Womanizer; and Miscreant Hiding in Nursing. See Randy E. Gross, “Warmth and Competence Traits: Perceptions of Female and Male Nurse Stereotypes” (PhD diss., City University of New York, 2017). I focus only on female nurse stereotypes. 

11. Irene Schuessler Poplin, “Nursing Uniforms: Romantic Idea, Functional Attire, or Instrument of Social Change?” Nursing History Review 2 (1994): 164–65. 

12. Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series XVII (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1st ed. 1949, 2nd ed. 1968). 

13. Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 2020). 

14. See, for example, Stepfan N. Willich, “Physicians in Opera – Reflection of Medical History and Public Perception,” British Medical Journal 333 (7582) (23 December 2006): 1333–35; T. A. Florin, “Demon, Quack, Scientist, or Saint: Depictions of Doctoring in the Operatic Literature,” Pharos Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society 88 (1) (Winter 2005): 18–24; Michael Hutcheon and Linda Hutcheon, “Pompous Pedants, Medical Monsters, Humane Healers: Operatic Physicians,” Canadian Medical Association Journal 177 (7) (25 September 2007): 755–56; J. Worth Estes, “The Changing Role of the Physician in Opera,” Opera Quarterly 10 (12) (Winter 1994): 143–55. 

15. In the text I include measure numbers for music passages to which I refer and list full citations of music scores, as well as audiovisual sources, in endnotes and in the bibliography. All scores mentioned in the book were found in libraries and online sources such as ISMLP, the International Sheet Music Library Project. Music scores and libretti for Timothy Sullivan’s Florence: The Lady with the Lamp, and Stephanie Martin’s Llandovery Castle were purchased from the Canadian Music Centre. 

16. Dan Decker, Anatomy of a Screenplay: Writing the American Screenplay from Character Structure to Convergence (Chicago: The Screenwriters Group, 1998). 

17. Bruce A. Young, “Shakespearean Characters and Early Modern Subjectivity: The Case of King Lear,” in Shakespeare’s Sense of Character: On the Page and From the Stage, ed. Yu Jin Ko and Michael W. Shurgot, 35–51 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012); Jeanne Addison Roberts, Literary Criticism as Dream Analysis: Essays on Renaissance and Modern Writers (Baltimore: American Literary Press, 2009). 

18. Young, “Shakespearian Characters and Early Modern Subjectivity,” 49. 

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