Opera in the Tropics: Music and Theater in Early Modern Brazil (Currents in Latin American and Iberian Music) by Rogerio Budasz
Opera in the Tropics is an engaging exploration of theater with music in Brazil from the mid 1500s to the early 1820s. Author Rog rio Budasz delves into the practices of the actors, singers, poets, and composers who created and performed Jesuit moral plays, Spanish comedias, and Portuguese vernacular operas and entremezes during the colonial period, as well as the Italian operas that celebrated the new independent nation in 1822. A Brazilian producer claimed in 1825 that the goal of music-theater was to instruct, entertain, and distract the population. Budasz argues that this threefold goal had in fact been present throughout the colonial period, in different combinations and with different purposes, at the hands of missionaries, intellectuals, bureaucrats, political leaders, and cultural producers. While Budasz demonstrates a continuity from Portuguese theatrical practices, primarily through the circulation of artists and repertory, he also examines a number of localized departures from the metropolitan model, particularly in the ethnic and gender profile of theatrical workers, in the modifications determined by local tastes, priorities, and materials, and in the political use of theater as an ideological and civilizing tool within the paradoxical context of a slave society. An eye-opening narrative of the transformations and uses of a colonial art form, Opera in the Tropics will be essential reading for all interested in the music and theater in Iberian and Latin American culture.