Anne Desler profile picture

Job title:

Lecturer in Music Performance


ECA Director of Quality Assurance and Curriculum Approval; Director of Performance, Director of Undergraduate Studies


Dr Dr Anne Desler is a scholar and performer specialising in the 18th-century dramma per musica (Italian serious opera). Her research focuses on dramatic and musical performance practice, star singers, historiography, aesthetics and cultural contexts. Anne has published articles and book chapters on 18th-century opera and is working on a monograph on the famous castrato Carlo Broschi 'Farinelli'.  In 2018-19, she carried out research for another monograph, entitled Opera Performed: Nicola Grimaldi ‘Nicolini’ - Singer, Actor, Director, Promoter, funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. As a result of her interest in historiography and popular music studies, she has also published an article on canonisation in Popular Music.  

As a singer, Anne has appeared in baroque opera productions and concerts in the US and Europe with Europa Galante, Musica Angelica and Modo Antiquo, among others, in venues such as the Opéra de Paris, Sala Verdi (Milano), Teatro Massimo (Palermo), Philharmonie Köln (Cologne) and the Getty Centre (Los Angeles). Her rendition of the title role in the first complete recording of Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso earned international critical acclaim. In addition, Anne has performed repertory ranging from medieval to contemporary music and plays a variety of early instruments as well as electric guitar.

Anne studied at the University of California, Irvine (BMus in Vocal Performance), University of Helsinki (MA in Musicology), the University of Southern California (DMA in Historical Performance Practice) and the University of Glasgow (PhD in Musicology). After teaching part-time at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, Birkbeck College and the University of Glasgow, she took up a Lectureship in Music and Theatre at the University of Hull in 2012 and moved to the University of Edinburgh in 2014. 

Anne is Director of Performance and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Reid School of Music.


At Edinburgh, Anne's teaching has been focusing on music performance and music history. She is the course organiser of the performance courses on the BMus programme, Performance 1, Performance and Keyboard 2, Performance 3 and Recital.  She teaches the baroque and classical segments of Music 2A:  Music and Ideas from the Middle Ages to Viennese Classicism and contributed to the interdisciplinary honours course Music, Style, Identity and Image. In addition, she has taught on Introduction to Musicology on the MMus programme.  Anne supervises undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral dissertations and research projects.


  • Music - MA
  • Music - PhD/MSc by Research
  • Musicology - MMus
  • Music - BMus (Hons)
  • Acoustics and Music Technology - MSc
  • Creative Music Practice - PhD


Research Interests

  • Italian dramma per musica (opera seria), c. 1680-1760:

      o   star singers, especially Farinelli and Nicolini

      o   musical and dramatic performance practice and rhetoric

      o   libretto studies, especially Metastasio

      o   collaborative/distributed authorship

      o   socio-cultural context

  • music performance, performance practice
  • meta-musicology, especially historiography and canonisation 

Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications
  • Historical musicology
  • 17th- and 18th-century music
  • Historiography
  • Aesthetics
  • Opera and theatre
  • Music performance
  • Performance practice
  • Vocal music
  • Music and literature
  • Early modern music business

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