Some Notes on the Origins of New Music-Theater

Some Notes on the Origins of New Music-Theater John Cage’s 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. “Theater that sings” (to use a slogan I inadvertently coined for the American Music Theater Festival) is demonstrably older, more “normal,” 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, opéras 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-theater—dramma per musica—because 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 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Theater Duke University Press

Some Notes on the Origins of New Music-Theater

Theater, Volume 30 (2) – Jan 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre
ISSN
0161-0775
eISSN
1527-196X
DOI
10.1215/01610775-30-2-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

John Cage’s 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. “Theater that sings” (to use a slogan I inadvertently coined for the American Music Theater Festival) is demonstrably older, more “normal,” 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, opéras 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-theater—dramma per musica—because 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

Journal

TheaterDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2000

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