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Speculum musicae (SMUS 30)

Musical Theatre in Europe 1830-1945

M. NiccolaI, C. Rowden (eds.)
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XVIII+479 p., 30 b/w ill., 15 b/w tables, 220 x 280 mm, 2017
ISBN: 978-2-503-57766-1
Languages: English, French, Italian
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Retail price: EUR 110,00 excl. tax
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This volume offers a panoramic vision of the diverse genres of musical theatre 1830-1945
From the mid-1800s in Europe there was a vigorous and enthusiastic expansion of diverse forms of musical theatre. An explosion of different types of venues – the cabarets, music-halls and private theatres – rubbed shoulders with the subsidised and official theatres offering more established types of spectacle, creating a milieu which welcomed a number of new musical and theatrical genres which fed from and into one another. In the midst of this creative dynamism, alongside revues and café-concert spectacles, operetta and its derivative forms took centre stage. This volume offers a panoramic vision of the diverse genres and types of musical theatre which multiplied and blossomed during this period, and is divided into six sections: the revue de fin d’année as a theatrical genre which also influenced all other lighter genres in France during its heyday; dance music in Offenbach’s operettas and his musical recreation of the Parisian soundscape; transformation of the opera repertoire in operetta and revue parodies; Viennese operetta and English operetta and musical comedy from the end of the ‘reign’ of Gilbert and Sullivan until the outbreak of World War II; diverse theatrical practices from Parisian puppet theatre and the posters of musical spectacles in the caf’ conc’, to contemporary Italian operetta before the rise of Fascism, and its dissemination, via the impresario Vittorio Rosi, in Japan. The last section is dedicated to national case studies (Portugal, Ex-Yugoslavia and Spain) of political appropriation, demonstrating ways in which operetta may be studied as a mirror of contemporary society. Offering broad historical chapters juxtaposed with specific case studies, this volume proposes a reading of the diverse genres of ‘musical theatre’ to highlight its energy and modernity.

Michela Niccolai has published the volumes «La Dramaturgie de Gustave Charpentier» (Brepols, 2011), a revised version of her Ph.D. thesis (Saint-Étienne/Pavia, 2008), and more recently «Giacomo Puccini et Albert Carré: "Madame Butterfly" à Paris» (Brepols, 2012). At the University of Montréal (OICRM) she completed a post-doctorate project on the editing of Charpentier’s various musical and social writings.

Clair Rowden is Reader and Deputy Head of School in the School of Music, Cardiff University. Her research deals mainly with opera and nineteenth-century France; her book Republican Morality and Catholic Tradition at the Opera: Massenet’s Hérodiade and Thaïs was published in 2004, and the edited volume Performing Salome, Revealing Stories for Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera appeared in 2013.


“Indeed, the volume itself is “criticism in action.” It invites its reader—specialist and non-specialist alike—to take part in the rich tapestry of signs, songs, and meanings that is European musical theater.” (Jennifer Walker, in EuropeNow, 19, 2 July 2018)

Interest Classification:
Fine Arts & Performing Arts
History of Music

This publication is also distributed by: ISD
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