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Micaela Baranello: Emmerich Kálmán's "Die Bajadere" and Operetta's Self-Reflexive Exoticism

Micaela Baranello
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Friday, October 30, 2020
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4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Online: (Meeting ID: 368 118 1293, Passcode: 596647).

After World War I, the Viennese operetta industry faced a series of crises both material and symbolic, including economic catastrophe and the loss of operetta's key symbolic touchstone, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In this paper, I examine how Emmerich Kálmán's "Die Bajadere" (1921) reimagines operetta entertainment for this new age. An operetta about the performance of an operetta, "Die Bajadere" presents not an exotic setting but a performance of one, in which a strangely Hungarian-sounding India mixes freely with the shimmies and valse Bostons of the ascendent New World. I argue that "Die Bajadere's" determined inauthenticity challenges models of the exotic in Western music, even as its self-commodification seeks to remythologize the world of operetta itself. Micaela Baranello joined the Department of Music at the University of Arkansas in 2017. Her research concerns opera and operetta from the nineteenth century to the present day. Her book-in-progress, "The Operetta Empire," is a study of how operetta represented questions of nation, class, and gender in early twentieth-century Vienna. She is also beginning a study of contemporary opera staging, supported by the Fulbright Summer Humanities Stipend.