Local Glories: Opera Houses on Main Street, Where Art and Community Meet

Hardcover | March 2, 2016

byAnn Satterthwaite

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To most people, the term "opera house" conjures up images of mink-coated dowagers accompanied by men in tuxedoes in the gilded interiors of opulent buildings like the Met in New York or Milan's La Scala. However, the opera house in the United States has a far more varied - and far moreinteresting - history than one might think.In Local Glories, Ann Satterthwaite explores the creative, social, and communal roles of thousands of "opera houses" that flourished across America. By 1900, opera houses were everywhere: on second floors over hardware stores, in grand independent buildings, in the back rooms of New England townhalls, and even in the bowels of a Mississippi department store. With travel made easier by the newly expanded rail lines, Sarah Bernhardt, Mark Twain, and John Philip Sousa entertained thousands of townspeople as did countless actors, theater and opera companies, innumerable minor league magicians,circuses, lecturers, and even 500 troupes solely performing Uncle Tom's Cabin. Often the town's only large space for public assembly, they served as a place for local activities like school graduations, recitations, sports, town meetings, elections, political rallies, and even social dances androller skating parties. Considered local landmarks, often in distinctive architect-designed buildings, they aroused considerable pride and reinforced town identity.By considering states with distinctly different histories - including, Maine, Nebraska, Vermont, New York, and Colorado, to name a few - Satterthwaite paints a picture of the diversity of the types of opera houses, programs, audiences, buildings, promoters, and supporters - and their hopes, dreamsand ambitions. She extends her discussion to the twentieth century, when radio, movies, and later television and changing tastes made these opera houses seem obsolete. Some were demolished, but those that were abandoned languished for decades until discovered in the last thirty years by stalwartrevivers in small towns across the country. The resuscitation of these opera houses today reflects the timeless quest for cultural inspiration and for communal engagement to counter the anonymity of the virtual world. These "local glories" are where art and community meet, forging connections andmaking communities today, just as they did in the nineteenth century.

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To most people, the term "opera house" conjures up images of mink-coated dowagers accompanied by men in tuxedoes in the gilded interiors of opulent buildings like the Met in New York or Milan's La Scala. However, the opera house in the United States has a far more varied - and far moreinteresting - history than one might think.In Loca...

Ann Satterthwaite is a city planner in Washington, DC. She is involved in environmental, cultural, and preservation planning to improve community livability, civic engagement, and sustainability for national, state, and local public and private agencies. The author of Going Shopping: Consumer Choices and Community Consequences, she has...

other books by Ann Satterthwaite

Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:March 2, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199392544

ISBN - 13:9780199392544

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPART ONE: A HEADY TIME: THOUSANDS OF OPERA HOUSES1. Signs of Civilization2. A Time of Change3. Culture and the PublicPART TWO: ON STAGE: PERFORMANCES, PERFORMERS, AND THEIR PATRONS4. Early Struggles5. Theater Thrives6. Celebrities and Stars7. Other Entertainments and Enlightenments8. Music and Opera9. What the Public WantsPART THREE: IN TOWN: A PUBLIC HALL AND ITS PUBLIC ROLES10. Business Connections11. Public Place and Civic Events12. Challenges13. Immigrants14. Symbols of PridePART FOUR: BORN AGAIN: REVIVED OPERA HOUSES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES15. The Poenix Arises16. Successes 30817. Engines for Regeneration18. Like Family 36619. Connected AgainAuthor's CommentsAppendix: A Listing of Extant Opera Houses by StateBibliography