Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Thesis submitted in part fulfilment of the award of Doctor of Philosophy to Technological University Dublin, April 2016.


The work presented here is in two parts. The first part is an opera composed to a libretto by the Irish playwright, John Breen. This opera is in three acts and concerns the performance of four famous performance art pieces; Rhythm 0 by Marina Abramović, Breakdown by Michael Landy, Velocity Piece by Barry La Va and How To Explain Pictures To a Dead Hare by Joseph Beuys. These art works are presented as the action of the opera and happen concurrently on the stage during the first two acts. The third act reflects on the action of acts one and two. The artists are forced to defend their work against the skepticism of others and try to explain their motivation for creating art.

The second part contains an exploration of the writing of the opera. The chronology of the opera’s composition is discussed. This chronology has some profound effects on the way the final piece is shaped. The shape of the original draft of the text and its transformation into the final version as presented in the libretto of the opera is examined. The inter-dependence of text and music in Breakdown is discussed. The influences behind the musical style, texture, leitmotif, harmony, word setting, and rhythm are isolated and given individual attention. Finally, the music’s journey from composition to performance is recounted and explained.