The Operetta Empire: Viennese Music Theater and Austrian Identity, 1900-1935


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project examines the musical development and social history of ‘Silver Age’ Viennese operetta through representative works of four major composers: Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Oscar Straus, and Leo Fall, as well as their reception. The massively popular genre articulated the anxieties of a newly cosmopolitan empire in a hybrid form of musical theater incorporating a variety of national and generic influences such as Offenbachian operetta, Italian opera, Germanic folksong, and English music hall material. After the fall of the Habsburg empire, operetta’s identity, intensely bound with the empire and increasingly outdated in the face of film and revue, memorialized this world gone by. Works considered include Die lustige Witwe, Die Csárdásfürstin, and Das Land des Lächelns.