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Musicology Distinguished Lecture Series: Prof. Katherine Preston, College of William and Mary

“The Panic of 1873 and Reception of Opera in America”

  1. Monday March 11 5:00pm
Burton Memorial Tower, Room 506

In October 1873 the American economy was hit by a major panic—the worst economic crisis in American history. Audiences for high-price entertainment (like foreign-language opera) disappeared as Americans turned to newer forms of entertainment (operettas, opéra bouffe) and to one older style: opera in English. The company of American soprano Clara Louise Kellogg was a major beneficiary of this situation for four years in the 1870s. Kellogg not only circumvented male operatic managers by establishing and managing her own company, but also helped to rekindle an American taste for opera in English. These developments marked a pivotal point in the history of Americans’ support for foreign-language opera, which henceforth was patronized by a shrinking demographic of wealthy individuals. Middle-class Americans never regained their former love for this style of opera, turning instead (and permanently) to other types of musical theatre.

Event co-sponsored by the Department of American Culture.

Free - no tickets required