Culture and cultures in historical context
Golovlev A. —
Russian music at the Metropolitan Opera: repertoire analysis in the sociocultural context of contemporary history of the United States
// Genesis: Historical research. – 2017. – ¹ 12.
– P. 126 - 146.
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Review: The subject of this research is the dynamics of performing Russian music on the stage of Metropolitan Opera in New York and development of public discourse viewed through the prism of socioeconomic history and dynamics of Russian-American and Soviet-American relations in the XX century. Throughout the entire existence of Metropolitan Opera (1883-2016), the article analyzes the history of premieres, format, frequency and distribution of the representatives of the Russian opera and ballet, as well as feedbacks of the leading critics that allow singling out the basic elements of comprehension of the Russian music and image of Russia among the educated audience of New York, as well as their transmission into the wider social strata (publications in newspapers, TV, radio, Internet broadcasting). Using the digitalized archive of Metropolitan Opera, the author conducts a quantitative analysis of the most prominent composers and operas of the “Russian” repertoire, as well as their conceptualization on the background of the general repertoire policy, sociopolitical and economic conditions of the key periods in American history of the XX century. Particularly, the author underlines the prewar period, especially the decade between the beginning of the Great Depression and World War II, Great Patriotic War and U.S.-Soviet alliance, Cold War, and contemporary period after 1991. The author also considers the selection of critical feedbacks from the leading journalists of the United Stated and Great Britain. The scientific novelty lies in the comprehensive repertoire and discursive analysis from the sociopolitical perspective. The main conclusion is defined by the clear distinction of leading composers – Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky in classical music of the XIX century and Stravinsky in contemporary classical music. Along with the dominance of the limited number of classics, in which regards the Metropolitan Opera followed the trends of conservative reductionism inherent also to other opera theatres, there is an evident distancing from the contemporary Soviet school until the end of the Cold War. A brief alignment with the Soviet Union during the World War II, on the contrary, did not led to the expansion of Russian repertoire, while the economic conjuncture directly affected the frequency, diversity, and public response towards the compositions of Russian music. Anti-Communism did not result in the negative image of Russian culture, but affected the perception of the contemporary music, as well as aggravated cultural-political distancing with regards to Russia. Enriching the existing comprehension of the cultural transfers from Russia into the United States, this article realizes the cross-disciplinary integration of the issues of musicological character into social and political history, which represents interest to the U.S. historians, international relations in broad sense, nations and nationalism, as well as cultural and discursive processes.
Keywords: Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Metropolitan Opera, musical nationalism, history of discourses, cultural transfer, repertoir analysis, classical music, contemporary music, high culture
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