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Fri, 07 Sep 2012 11:51:53 EDT by admin, 106108 views
Music/Folklore paper by Baranello, Micaela (all papers)
From Kálmán Imre to Emmerich Kálmán: Framing Hungary in "Der Zigeunerprimas"
Viennese operetta often reduced Hungary to gypsies, uncontrolled passion, “paprika,” and an elemental link with a mythic past. But for the most successful Hungarian composer of operettas, Kálmán Imre—or Emmerich Kálmán, as he became known after moving to Vienna in 1908—these tropes could not be taken seriously. This paper examines how Kálmán both embodied and exploited Hungarian clichés and simultaneously put these clichés in quotation marks, enjoying their pleasure but clearly marking them as fantasy.
Kálmán began writing operettas in Budapest, where his early works (such as “Tatárjárás”  and “Az Obsitos” ) contained relatively little that the Viennese would recognize as Hungarian—as was conventional for operetta in Budapest at the time. “Der Zigeunerprimas” (1912), however, his first operetta written for Vienna, presents a different picture. Loosely based on the life of the real violinist Rácz Pali, it concerns a multigenerational family of Roma musicians struggling with tradition and modernization. Despite “gypsy” music and characters, and a marketing campaign touting his Hungarian authenticity, Kálmán and his Viennese librettists treated the material with a light hand, portraying characters with humanity and depth who assume Roma garb and clichés to make a living rather than possessing the wild souls of legend. Yet he still offered a tribute to the artistry of Rácz Pali. This suggests that the Hungarian in Viennese operetta could be more self-conscious and more multifaceted than simple exoticism, and its cosmopolitanism transcended self versus other binaries.
Brief Professional Bio:
Micaela Baranello is a doctoral candidate in musicology at Princeton University, where she is writing her dissertation on “Silver Age” Viennese operetta, focusing on the works of Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Leo Fall, and Oscar Straus. She has presented work at the American Musicological Society’s annual meeting as well as conferences at Harvard and Oxford. Her work has been published in Opera Quarterly, The New York Times, and MLA Notes. In the 2009-10 academic year she held a Fulbright study grant in Austria.