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The University of Southampton

Derek Scott Seminar

Derek Scott
24 - 25 November 2015
Music, Building 2 University of Southampton Highfield Campus Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Kate Guthrie at .

Event details

The Music Department welcomes Derek Scott to present his research and preside over a variety of seminars, workshops and presentations, as part of the Hartley Residency Program.


Tuesday 24 November 2015 

11:00-12:30 Introductory seminar for post-graduate students: "Music and Cosmopolitanism Revisited"
Building 67, Room 1009

16:00-17:30 Formal presentation: Derek B. Scott (University of Leeds) "The Astonishing Appetite for German Operetta in London and New York"
Building 85, Room 2207

Wednesday 25 November 2015

11:30-12:30 One-to-one meetings (please contact Dr Kate Guthrie for a slot)

14:00-15:30 Formal presentation: Valeria de Lucca (University of Southampton) "'Operetta is dying.' Critical Response to Silver Age Operetta in Italy"
Building 67, Room 1003

16:00-17:00 Departmental roundtable: "Music and Cosmopolitanism"
Position Paper (Derek B. Scott): "Farewell to Methodological Nationalism in Music Historiography"
Panelists: Valeria de Lucca, Mark Everist, Derek B. Scott
Chair: Francesco Izzo
Building 67, Room 1003


Information and Abstracts

Introductory Seminar: "Music and Cosmopolitanism Revisited"
Tuesday 24 November 2015, 11.00

Preparatory reading:

  • Dana Gooley, “Colloquy: Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Nationalism, 1848–1914”, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 66/2 (2013): 523–49

Formal Presentation (Derek Scott): "The Astonishing Appetite for German Operetta in London and New York"
Tuesday 24 November 2015, 16.00

Anyone studying the reception in the UK and USA of operettas adapted from the German stage is bound to recognize that the 1907 productions in the West End and on Broadway of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow mark a new phase. Its success suggested the possibility of a flourishing market for Viennese operetta in both cities. This was confirmed by the enthusiasm for The Chocolate Soldier (Oscar Straus) in New York in 1909 and in London in 1910. German operetta moved into a marketplace dominated by musical comedy. The Merry Widow was welcomed in New York as “the greatest kind of a relief from the American musical comedy,” and in London as a “genuine light opera” that is “not overlaid (yet) by buffoonery” (Times, 10 June 1907). After the First World War, Berlin became the city of operetta, and theatrical impresarios from London and New York went there eager to buy the rights for English adaptations. These adaptations could involve substantial changes, which often shed unexpected light on audience expectations, aspirations, and anxieties, and the social, cultural, and moral values of the times in which these works were created. The operettas engage with modernity, innovative technology, social change, and cultural difference. Without deeper knowledge of them and their audience reception, we lack an adequate understanding of the musical theatre mainstream in early twentieth-century Europe. Surprisingly, there has been no rigorous scholarly study of the cultural transfer of these German operettas to Britain and the USA, despite its taking place in a period that can be demarcated clearly (1907–38). Academic attention has focused, instead, on America’s influence on European stage works. This paper is part of a project investigating operetta production and reception as a means of enhancing knowledge of cultural transfer and cosmopolitanism.

Formal Presentation (Valeria de Lucca): "'Operetta is dying.' Critical Response to Silver Age Operetta in Italy"
Wednesday 25 November 2015, 14.00

After a somewhat slow start, the 1907 production of La vedova allegra (Die lustige Witwe) at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan quickly became an overwhelming success. While audiences around Italy rushed to secure a ticket to attend a performance in Milan, Turin or Genoa, the production sparked strong reactions among critics. While some argued that the Italian adaptation of Lehar’s operetta marked the “death” of the genre, others welcomed this work as a breadth of fresh air that would ignite new energy and open a new phase for musical theatre in Italy. Taking the critical reactions to La vedova allegra as a starting point, this paper considers the reception of silver age operetta in Italy at a moment of crucial transformation in musical entertainment, in which the boundaries between “high” and “light” musical theatre were being redefined. Critics’ reactions offer an insight into the anxiety surrounding not only questions of “genre” and “style” but also the effects that foreign imports could have on the Italian operatic scene.

Departmental Roundtable: "Music and Cosmopolitanism"
Wednesday 25 November 2015, 16.00

The nineteenth century witnessed the beginnings of a transnational entertainment industry that grew eventually into the globalized entertainment industry of the later twentieth century. In the UK, nineteenth-century transcultural exchange was seen in the import of French operettas and American blackface minstrelsy, and in the export of music hall, Gilbert and Sullivan, and musical comedy1. Scholars working in urban studies have in recent years been increasingly interested in exploring transcultural exchange, examining transformations across cultures, and interrogating the meaning of cosmopolitan culture. A focus on cities offers an alternative to methodological nationalism, a term coined by sociologist Ulrich Beck2. Cosmopolitanism has returned to the agenda in the context of debates about globalization. The global and the local are not the oppositional entities they once were, and a reworked concept of cosmopolitanism could aid in their analysis. A history that focuses on cosmopolitanism resonates with the world in which we now live: a world of migration and tourism, involving the constant transfer, exchange, translation, and adaptation of different cultural practices and artifacts.

1See Derek B. Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th-Century Poplar Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris, and Vienna (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
2Ulrich Beck, “The terrorist Threat: World Risk Society Revisited,” Theory, Culture & Society, 19/4 (2002): 39–55.

Speaker information

Derek Scott, Leeds. Professor of Critical Musicology

Valeria de Lucca,Lecturer in Music

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