Dr Jane Forner

Dr Jane Forner
Dr Jane Forner

Dr Jane Forner

Ph.D., BA (HONS)

Teaching Fellow



Jane Forner grew up in South London and boomeranged between London and Leeds until taking her BA in Music at the University of Cambridge (Peterhouse), 2011-2014. After teaching in the rural south of France and briefly working at law chambers, she began the PhD program in Historical Musicology at Columbia University in 2015, from which she graduated in May 2020, completing a dissertation "Distant Pasts Reimagined: Encountering the Political Present in 21st-Century Opera" under the supervision of George Lewis. After continuing teaching at Columbia in Summer 2020, she began as a Teaching Fellow at Aberdeen in October 2020. Jane is a mezzo-soprano and maintains an active life in choral singing, while trying to keep up lapsed music-making on the clarinet, saxophone, and guitar. 


  • PhD Music 
    2020 - Columbia University 
  • BA Music 
    2014 - University of Cambridge 

Research Overview

My research focuses on contemporary opera primarily in Europe and North America of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. I am particularly interested in how opera creators engage political themes or ideologies in their work, particularly at the intersections of gender, race, and religion, and how operatic culture is embedded in political and cultural structures around the world today. I am also interested in music's place in colonial and postcolonial history, a perspective brought into a chapter on Thomas Adès's Tempest opera in the volume Thomas Adès Studies (ed. Philip Stoecker and Edward Venn, Cambridge University Press), published November 2021. Beyond opera, I am interested in the visual arts, language, and literature of the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and new music creation around the world. In my doctoral dissertation, I focused on contemporary operas which intertwine ancient, medieval, or mythical source materials with modern political issues, and that remains a key part of my research, exploring the ways that living composers continue to turn to "distant pasts" in novel ways, both expanding on and breaking away from the long history of attention to myth and medievalism in opera and vocal music. 

Research Areas

Research Specialisms

  • Gender Studies
  • History of Music
  • Musicology
  • Opera
  • Music Theory and Analysis

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

My current research follows a number of related interests. Broadly centred on the intersection of politics, culture, and opera around the world today, I am interested in two main themes: what aesthetic, dramatic, and musical forms opera takes, and how artists working on the 'peripheries' of the dominant western operatic canon are expanding and diversifying the genre. 

My research operates via broad geographic directions: looking to the United States, to Europe, and to the transnational collaborations occurring in many different formats. 

My book project in developement, with the preliminary title Operatic Encounters Across the Mediterranean: Cultures of Collaboration, builds on analyses forming part of my doctoral work to investigate the intercultural musical collaborations occurring in and around Europe, with a particular emphasis on musicians from North Africa, India, and the Middle East. My focus is on the creation of opera - broadly conceived - within these diasporic encounters, some centred on the Mediterranean, and others in translatlantic contexts. I explore operas created in the past two decades which, often conceived in multiple languages, each offer a distinctive mixture of musical traditions as an invigorating expansion of the genre today.

A second ongoing project focusing on musical manifestations of Lilith draws on my interest in feminist approaches across a range of genres, from opera to heavy metal to videogame music. Continuing my interest in modern uses of mythology, I explore how artists invoke the quintessential demonic feminine, the monstrous woman, in changing feminist practices from the women's movements of the 1970s to current TV.