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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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American Musical Theater in the Opera House
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America
Opera America Magazine9/1/2007

The American musical theater tradition, beginning with the musical comedies of the early 20th century and continuing through the musical plays and concept musicals of the present day, are rooted in a European tradition that has long captivated opera audiences around the world — from the Viennese operetta of Lehár and Strauss to the French opera bouffe of Offenbach and Chabrier, and even the British comic operas of Gilbert & Sullivan.

This article looks at several opera companies and their differing attitudes toward the inclusion of American musical theater in regular season programming, and celebrates those that have historically included the stage works of Romberg, Friml, Herbert, Weill, Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Rodgers, Berlin, Arlen, Loewe, Bernstein, Loesser, Willson, Sondheim and others as part of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2002-2003 production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago. their core repertory.


About the Author: Larry Bomback is operations manager of the New York Youth Symphony and Lecturer of Music History at Hunter College. His work has been published in The Musical Times, Musicological Explorations and The Harmonizer, and he has presented papers and lectures in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. He is currently working on a book about Irving Berlin for University of Mississippi Press.

Spring 2014 Magazine Issue
  • From Gold Rush to Google
  • Before, After and During Opera Conference 2014
  • OPERA America's New Works Forum Expands and Explores
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