Music theatre networks of the 19th century: the Eastern Mediterranean

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This paper attempts to trace the trajectory of opera and music theatre in the vast area spanning the Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea, the Aegean archipelago and the Eastern Mediterranean. It focuses on landmarks such as the developing of a network of musical and theatrical activity and the foundation of musical and theatrical institutions (opera houses), always in correlation with the growth of urban life and the continuous trend for westernization, which characterizes this huge geographical and culturally diverse area. Concerts, opera, ballet and theatre productions, balls, light musical theatre, were all instantiations of an urban civilization, linked to city public life, and bourgeois needs and customs. The theatre–opera house is located at the centre of this vivid musical and theatrical activity of the nineteenth century. The building and operation of theatres in the big as well as the smaller cities of Southeastern Europe was inherently connected to their urban function: “great collective status symbols”, as E.J. Hobsbawm has aptly put it. However the main driving force was not the institution itself, but its restless soul: the itinerant companies. In fact, the frequency of an itinerant company’s visits caused and hastened the building and opening of private and public theatres. In this context, we will discuss all of the above in close link with the developments in the cultural market in general, by examining factors which affect musical and theatrical activity in a decisive way, such as: the evolution of new social customs, the introduction and gradual establishment of musical education, the commercialization of art, and the gradually increasing professionalism of the performers and artists, which leads to the formation of a creative industry.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2022
Event21st Quinquennial International Musicological Society Congress - University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Duration: 22 Aug 202226 Aug 2022


Conference21st Quinquennial International Musicological Society Congress
Abbreviated titleIMS2022
Internet address


  • musicology
  • music
  • performing arts
  • theatre
  • opera studies
  • theatre studies
  • Modern Greek Culture
  • Modern Greek Studies
  • Nineteenth century literature and culture
  • Nineteenth century music
  • Nineteenth century studies
  • Creative industries


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