John Cageâs New York debut at the Museum of Modern Art, 1943. Photo: Eric Shaal. thing, up to and including commercial musicals. That leaves what may be the most important and characteristic art form of the turn of the millennium without a proper name. An attempt to sketch the as yet unwritten history of modern music-theater might help to sort out these confusions. âTheater that singsâ (to use a slogan I inadvertently coined for the American Music Theater Festival) is demonstrably older, more ânormal,â and more widespread than spoken or prose theater. Popular musical entertainment goes back at least to Greco-Roman times and can be found in almost all cultures. Side by side with grand opera and Wagnerian music drama, opere buffe, opÃ©ras comiques, comic operas, singspiele and songspiele, operettas, cabarets, and musical comedies have continued to flourish right up to our own time. Ever since its invention in Italy in 1600, opera has been constantly reinvented as music-theaterâdramma per musicaâbecause opera has always threatened to become, well, too operatic: too old, too showy, too devoted to its past, too removed from the concerns of its time. And, above all, too obsessed with voce, voce, voce. It is
Theater – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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