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Title:Redefining America through opera: Representations of Latin/o Americans and a new tradition
Author(s):Coambs, Tania Arazi
Director of Research:Taylor, Stephen A
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Stone, Sylvia
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Goldman, Dara; Gunn, Julie
Department / Program:Music
Discipline:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Opera
Latin/o American Opera
Latinx Studies
Abstract:This dissertation examines Latina/o opera composition in the United States and argues that starting from the mid 1980s to the present, the bourgeoning trend to produce operas of the Latina/o and Latin American experience is indicative of the development of an emergent sub-genre of American operatic composition. Reflective of the growing Hispanic population within the United States, this significant programming trend is understood as intending to promote the engagement of new audiences in the United States through the inclusion of cultural, socio-political, and historical representations with which Latina/o audiences identify as being reflective of their cultural background and life experience. Significantly, these operas also offer new representations of American ethnic and cultural identity within our multiracial and multiethnic society. In a world where the implication of what constitutes mainstream America largely implies the white, liberal middle-class, minority artists, creators, and performers are often viewed as representatives of their minority culture, and thus inseparable from the art which they create. While for some minority artists this may certainly be their intent, for others, who may wish to be recognized first and foremost as American, fixed collective assumptions about the type of work they create become an unwelcome constraint. By examining operas (both early twentieth century and contemporary) that contain distinctive thematic material derived from Latina/o subjects, this dissertation juxtaposes the differences in perception and reception between when Latinas/os choose to compose material on Latina/o subjects, versus that of their hegemonic Anglo-American counterparts, discussing the questions: How do you determine what is an “American” opera? Whose representative “American experience” should American operas depict? Why is there bias toward a certain kind of American story that preferences the history of Anglo Americans over others? Even when the operas in question bare striking similarities to one another (both in terms of theme and spoken language), why are some operas and opera composers considered purveyors of American national culture, while others relegated to the roles of “ethnic” or “regional” minority representatives? Examples of representative contemporary Latina/o American opera explored here, in part through interviews with composers, librettists, and other participating artists, include the following: Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas (1996); Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s Frida (1991); Héctor Armienta’s La Llorona / The Weeping Woman (2008); and Peter Sellars and John Adams’ The Girls of the Golden West (2018).
Issue Date:2020-07-17
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/108714
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Tania Coambs
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-07
Date Deposited:2020-08


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