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Type: Thesis
Title: Australian opera, 1842-1970 : a history of Australian opera with descriptive catalogues.
Author: Wood, Elizabeth
Issue Date: 1979
School/Discipline: Dept of Music
Abstract: Australian Opera, 1842-1970 is a repertory study with a dual aim: first, to document the extent of the achievement of Australian composers for the theatre: second, to examine and interpret the measure of that achievement. The first Volume is a narrative history and interpretation of the overall artistic characteristics of the sources. It relates these to their larger inherited Western musical culture, then focusses on the connections between music and drama in a distinctive 'Australian' ideology. The second Volume documents and describes the sources on which the history is based. The work lists chronologically a number of operas, operettas, the various forms of comic musical theatre, such as pantomime, burlesque, and extravaganza, forms of lyric and classical drama, dramatic cantata, and the incidental music written for plays and melodramas since early colonial days. Details are given of performances, history, musical and dramatic features, with contemporary references, to comprise a bibliography of sources, many of which have not been previously examined. The narrative history shows, first, the patterns in the imported repertory from the earliest records of Australian colonial theatres to the coming of commercial and touring opera companies in the 19th century which gradually consolidated a standard repertory modelled on the Anglo-European theatre. Supporting Documentation gives data on theatres, performers, and the works thus accumulated. Similar patterns of development are found in North American opera and in other art forms in Australia. Throughout the work, some reference is made to the interplay of tradition and novelty, popular forms of entertainment, 'folk', and 'fine' art, imported and indigenous materials and also to aspects of public taste and attitudes, the development of musical and theatrical institutions, and relevant social, political, and economic conditions. Second, it surveys the field of opera and musical theatre written in Australia, tracing within it elements of 18th century comic opera, parody and burlesque, serious Italian opera, ballad opera, pantomime and other forms of light opera, through the rise of romantic opera and imitations of French operette and the Savoy operas. Towards the end of the 19th century, it finds new directions in choralism, lyric dramas, and large-scale dramatic works in a post-Wagnerian style, and discovers Australian examples in the early 20th century of Italian realist and Celtic mythological national schools. Third, it examines attempts to find an Australian identity through schemes for a national opera, and asks why these failed, especially in terms of the relationship of the Press to artists and audiences in the 1920s. By recalling the image of Australia presented on the late-18th century overseas stage, it recapitulates the context, chronology, and chief components of the process of acculturation by which overseas traditions became modified, distorted, or realized in Australian opera. It introduces a conceptual and theoretical framework, for a discussion of acculturation, its activating forces, models and modes, and concludes with some suggestions about the criteria for this process of change which has helped shape an Australian musical theatre ideology. Although the work concentrates on 19th and early 20th century foundations, it proposes that some recent operas written in Australia represent a distinctive Australian contribution to 20th century opera.
Advisor: McCredie, Andrew D.
Dissertation Note: Thesis(Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Dept. of Music, 1979
Keywords: Opera, Australian History and crticism, Opera Australia Bibliography Catalogues.
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exception. If you are the author of this thesis and do not wish it to be made publicly available or If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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