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Opera for the PeopleEnglish-Language Opera and Women Managers in Late 19th-Century America$
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Katherine Preston

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199371655

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199371655.001.0001

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The Renaissance of English-Language Opera in America

The Renaissance of English-Language Opera in America

Caroline Richings and Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa

(p.61) 2 The Renaissance of English-Language Opera in America
Opera for the People

Katherine K. Preston

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the two most important English-language troupes active during the late 1860s and early 1870s. Caroline Richings, known as a “manageress” or “directress,” performed before, during, and after the Civil War. Her success shows conclusively that Americans of the immediate postwar period were still interested in English-language opera, even though most music critics believed that this style of performance was old-fashioned and passé. Many believed that Richings created the English-language-opera renaissance in America. The Scottish soprano Euphrosyne Parepa arrived in America in 1865 as part of an itinerant concert troupe and subsequently sang in Italian-language opera companies. Richings’s success and popularity inspired her, and she organized her own English-language troupe, which quickly eclipsed that of her competitor. The success of these two prime donne—especially in the face of skepticism about Americans’ interest in vernacular opera—illuminates the operatic tastes of American audiences in the immediate postwar period.

Keywords:   Caroline Richings, Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa, English-language opera renaissance, vernacular opera, music critic

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