Opera in contention: social conflict in late nineteenth-century Mexico City Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Ochs, Anna Agranoff
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • While opera in the nineteenth-century was largely centered in Europe, one significant secondary hub of operatic activity existed in Mexico City. Mexico City's musical and theatrical scene included Mexican companies, as well as troupes from Europe, Cuba, and elsewhere, which performed a wide range of genres, from tragic plays and zarzuelas (Spanish musical theater) to Italian romantic operas and French comic operas. The ways in which the leading singers, Mexican and European composers, and individual works in the opera scene reflected dialogues about the dominant constructions of gender, race, and nationality help to explain the role opera culture played in the relationship between European and Mexican elements in Mexican society and Mexican opera traditions. The Mexico City opera scene was an arena of experimentation in which individual operas, their composers, and performers both challenged and reinforced racial and gender ideologies, as well as foreign influences. For example, the depiction of the Aztec hero Cuauhtémoc as a quasi-European civilized hero in the Mexican composer Aniceto Ortega's opera Guatimotzín (1871), demonstrates ambiguities and contradictions in conceptions of mestizaje, or racial mixture, and its implications for perceptions of Mexican history. Musical and textual influences evident in Guatimotzn and another Mexican opera from this period, Melesio Morales's Ildegonda (1866), highlight the debate concerning the role of Mexican heritage in Mexico's future. And, among performers, the reception and literary depictions of Spanish cancan dancer Amalia Gómez, Mexican soprano Angela Peralta, and Italian tenor Enrico Tamberlick illustrate how individuals could overcome obstacles presented by discourses of femininity and masculinity by emphasizing unconventional professional and personal choices. Mexican operas, such as Guatimotzn and Ildegonda, along with singers and dancers in Mexico City opera productions, highlight the role of opera culture in the larger dialogue between European and Mexican influences in efforts to civilize the Mexican nation.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Music."
  • Garcia, David
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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