All That Glitters Is Not Gold: The Presentation of 19th Century Class Structures and Social Norms in Golden Age Operetta

Emma Riggs

It is common in the 21st century to see operettas pitched as 19th century political satire, surprisingly modern in their witty attempts to break out of the restrictive Victorian class structures. However, upon closer reflection, this modern presentation of operettas reflects limited true understanding of the economic, commercial, and cultural realities surrounding their composition. Through an exploration of a portion of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and Johann Strauss Jr., this lecture recital explores how 19th century operettas succeeded commercially by pandering to the fears and values of their core demographic of audience members, resulting in a body of work which, contrary to common modern belief, upholds the social structures and norms of 19th century European society.




Jennifer Cable