ICS Fellow Lectures

Making American Opera After Einstein

Making American Opera After Einstein


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In the wake of the avant-garde opera Einstein on the Beach in 1976, opera in the United States experienced a renaissance, one which has continued to the present. My book project, Making American Opera after Einstein, centers on contemporary attempts to remake opera in an American image. In it, I detail how American opera—as a genre, a sphere of cultural institutions, an expression of national identity—has transformed significantly over the past four decades. Whereas many composers embrace operatic convention, tailoring their operas to audiences through adaptations of cherished American stories, others attempt to test the genre’s aesthetic boundaries. By exploring operas that manifest the enduring modernist impulse to innovate, Making American Opera reveals how American cultural politics and the operatic politics of institution and genre act as dialectical forces in the creation of new music theater. It presents both the visual and sonic as negotiations of these factors, in case studies ranging from Philip Glass’s Satyagraha (1980) to Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar (2012).

Streaming Media

Publication Date

Spring 3-2-2023


American Opera, Einstein, Opera, Operatic Politics


Ethnomusicology | Music | Musicology

Making American Opera After Einstein