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Title: Catherine the Great and the Rise of Comic Opera in Late Eighteenth-Century St. Petersburg
Authors: Bonner, Elise
Advisors: Morrison, Simon
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: Enlightenment
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the rise of comic opera in St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine II “the Great” from her coup d’état in 1762 until her death in 1796. Aiming to cultivate bourgeois culture in her capital and improve the morals and manners of her subjects, the empress founded the court’s first public theaters and provided unprecedented support for Italian and Russian comic opera. She recruited Europe’s most acclaimed composers of opera buffa, such as Giovanni Paisiello, Giuseppe Sarti, and Vicente Martín y Soler, and supported the early development of Russian comic operas that reflected both her tastes and social ideals. By the end of Catherine’s reign, comic operas patronized by the empress were no longer solely a pastime for elites in the Winter Palace; rather, they had become a popular entertainment, eagerly consumed by St. Petersburg’s emerging civil society. This study also explores the changes in the infrastructure of the court theater that made possible the remarkable success of comic opera. Decrees, financial records, correspondence, and contracts show that the empress and her advisors created a strong theatrical administration that gave Russian officials the power to regulate the works they staged and systematically educate Russians and promote them to positions throughout the theater. By the end of Catherine’s rule, both opera buffa and Russian comic opera, which were serving commercial and imperial interests as part of a de facto court monopoly, became the artistic, political, and social foundation on which Russian patriotic-heroic opera would emerge in the following century.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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