Democratizing opera in America, 1895 to the present

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Despite opera's well-known exclusivity, the genre has in fact consistently been the target of popularizing initiatives, a point often overlooked in accounts of its history. This dissertation identifies and explains trends in efforts to democratize opera in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Examining both traditional live performance and opera's dissemination through new media formats, this research is the first to illuminate patterns in the great variation in the presentation style of popularly oriented opera in America over the last century, revealing novel source materials that challenge existing views of the genre. I argue that these little-explored democratizing initiatives have been dominated by ideals of uplift (1895-1920), integration (1920-1970), and authenticity (1970-present). Three case studies represent the prevailing trend of each era: Henry Savage's English Grand Opera Company (1895-1912), the NBC-TV Opera Theater (1949-64), and the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD broadcasts (2006-present [2014]). I also show how changing ideologies about the role of "high culture" in society, sociodemographic shifts in the composition of the middle and upper classes and the immigrant population, and technological advances in mass media such as TV and HD satellite broadcasts have informed the emergence and character of these opera popularization strategies.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2014
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Levy, Daniela Smolov
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Music.
Primary advisor Berger, Karol, 1947-
Thesis advisor Berger, Karol, 1947-
Thesis advisor Grey, Thomas S
Thesis advisor Hinton, Stephen
Advisor Grey, Thomas S
Advisor Hinton, Stephen


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Daniela Smolov Levy.
Note Submitted to the Department of Music.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2014.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2014 by Daniela Smolov Levy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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