Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Music Research Seminar: Derek Scott

Lily Elsie as Franzi

Silver-Age Operetta: The Power of an Early 20th-Century Transcultural Entertainment Industry

Lecture Theatre 1, School of Music

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The speaker is Derek Scott (University of Leeds)

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Abstract
During the first three decades of the twentieth century, a music industry that had already been growing for more than fifty years became transnational and, in some of its activities, global. Studies of this period have a tendency to focus on the significance of the music business in New York, especially Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, and neglect the importance of a transcultural operetta industry emanating from Berlin. For some time, it was unclear whether Broadway or Berlin’s Friederichstraße would carry the greatest influence over the world’s musical stages. This presentation explains why.

Pictured above is Lily Elsie as Franzi, leader of the women’s orchestra in A Waltz Dream (Oscar Straus), wearing a dress by London fashion designer Lucile. Operetta was always closely linked to the fashion industry. In Germany, the critic Theodor Adorno commented that the long dresses he saw women wearing “looked as if they had been stolen from operettas.”

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