"The term ""German operetta"" in the project title embraces twentieth-century operettas originating in both Austria and Germany. These enjoyed remarkable success in London and New York during 1907–1937, and, without deeper knowledge of them and their audience reception, we are sadly lacking in our understanding of the cultural mainstream in early twentieth-century Austria, Germany, the UK, and USA. 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. Academic attention has focused, instead, on America’s influence on European stage works.
After Lehár’s Die lustige Witwe was produced to great acclaim in London and New York in 1907, the public appetite for German operetta grew rapidly in these cities. Although the First World War brought a temporary diminution of opportunities for new productions, there was an enthusiastic renewal of interest in the 1920s, and operettas from the theatres of Berlin were regularly adapted for the West End and Broadway. This project investigates the changes made for the London and New York productions in the context of cultural and social issues of the period, examining audience expectations, aspirations, and anxieties, and the social, cultural, and moral values of the times in which these works were created. It investigates how the operettas engage with modernity, innovative technology, social change, and cultural difference, seeking findings that will enhance knowledge of cultural transfer and transformation.
Recently, there have been encouraging signs of a new flowering of interest, as the music enters the public domain free from copyright restrictions. New publications offering digitized reprints of the vocal scores, and historic recordings of radio broadcasts are becoming available. This project will create new knowledge that will help to stimulate both academic and market interests."
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