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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Music

Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded

2010

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

Opera, Boston, Brahmins, Puritans, Jordan

Abstract

This thesis examines the cultural context of opera in Boston between the years 1620 to 2010. Specifically, I look at how the Boston Opera Company was founded, its existence, and its ultimate demise. The rise of opera in colonial Boston is also explored and especially how the immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries influenced the city. Around this time of changing demographics Eben D. Jordan, Jr., of Jordan Marsh Co. decided to build an opera house for the city of Boston.

The effects that Puritanism had on music and the culture of Boston during its early years are also explored. Then Boston musical independence is catalogued about how it relates to the unique form of music that did form during this time, starting with the First New England School.

During the mid to late nineteenth century massive immigration took place that changed this country, especially Boston. The modern United States was formed during this time, including its music. Boston, starting in the 1830’s had numerous societies and schools disseminating music to the populace. This in turn led to the creation of the Boston Opera Company in 1908.

The Boston Opera Company was founded by Eben D. Jordan of Jordan Marsh Co. He decided that the city of Boston needed a proper opera company, so he paid for the construction of the house and operation. Unfortunately, the populace soon lost interest and the company made in ill-fated trip to Paris in 1914. This trip, coupled with the start of WWI, forced the company to declare bankruptcy in 1915.

There are definite cultural considerations as to why the opera company was unable to make itself part of the fabric of the city, like the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is very much a part of the city and there is no reason why opera should not be with that part either.

Boston has a very large metropolitan area and with the proper guidance and determination, opera could be supported here year round. A new house would have to be built, since the original opera house was torn down in 1958. With the proper determination, however, it could be done for permanent opera in the city.

First Advisor

Theodore D. Brown

Second Advisor

Miriam Whaples

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