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Title:Early Nineteenth-Century Opera and the Impact of the Gothic
Author(s):Willier, Stephen Ace
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Literature, English
Abstract:At the beginning of the eighteenth century the word "gothic" was used in a highly derogatory manner. By the end of the century, however, the ideas embodied in the word came to have aesthetic validity. When the second edition of Horace Walpole's novel, The Castle of Otranto, appeared in 1765, it was subtitled "A Gothic Story." Many of the trappings of Walpole's novel, such as the castle, the Medieval setting, and the concerns of a moribund aristocracy became standard features of gothic fiction, which reached its zenith of popularity in the 1790s. The gothic novel was calculated to induce terror: horror, confinement, paranoia, repression, sexual sadism, and the taboo were all basic to the genre.
With its propensity for "le merveilleux," it is logical that contemporary opera should be influenced, in terms of content, tone, and structure, by the gothic vogue and by what the novel as such was able to offer dramatically. Many elements of gothic fiction such as disguise, thunderstorms, long-lost heirs, and the supernatural were intrinsically operatic in nature.
This thesis explores the connection between the gothic and early nineteenth-century opera. The literary, sociological, philosophical, and operatic background of the late eighteenth century is presented as a backdrop. Operas that were based on specific gothic works are enumerated and analysed and an overview of Continental operas that were affected in a more general although pervasive way by the gothic is provided. The thesis culminates in a study of the operatic mad scene, one of the clearest utterances of the gothic in opera.
Issue Date:1987
Description:618 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8803237
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1987

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