Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Music

Supervisor

Edmund Goehring

Abstract

This dissertation maps the responses to the world premiere of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West (10 December 1910, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City). It seeks to arrive at a deeper understanding of the opera’s ambivalent reception in the New York City musical press. From the vantage point of national musical identity, it analyzes the argumentation of the reviews and articles in the New York City newspapers from 1905-1911 and determines the themes and patterns that connect them. It then places the critical commentary into the larger contexts of both the New York City opera field of 1910 and the discourse of the American Frontier Myth. Critics carefully negotiated conflicting views of personal, national, and musical identities in their assessments of this work. The early twentieth-century concern over the development of an American musical identity motivates much of the negative criticism about La fanciulla del West, while cosmopolitanism drives much of the positive criticism. The reviews offer a window into nativism and cosmopolitan nationalism in New York City musical life during the first decade of the twentieth century.


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