Richard Tauber, Franz Lehár and the Reproducible Voice in Weimar Berlin (Micaela Baranello, University of Arkansas)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Music Room 1145 (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Free

Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Ad for Richard Tauber record
Ad for one of Richard Tauber's records. 
 
Dr. Micaela Baranello (University of Arkansas) will present a talk titled “Richard Tauber, Franz Lehár and the Reproducible Voice in Weimar Berlin” on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 from 3:30-4:45 pm in Music Room 1145 on the UCSB campus. This event is presented by the UCSB Music History and Theory Forum.

Abstract

Operetta composer Franz Lehár sought the respectability and expressive heights of opera, and in the 1920s found them onstage in the slumming operatic tenor Richard Tauber. Their collaboration was heralded as both an artistic and commercial success and yielded a string of hits in part thanks to new technology: Tauber was arguably the first operetta artist whose recording career rivaled his stage appearances. In this talk, Dr. Baranello will consider the interaction between Tauber’s stage and recorded personas as embodied in his performance in Lehár’s operetta Das Land des Lächelns (1929).
 
Tauber’s performances became particularly famous for his endless encores, which might seem to imitate the recorded Schlager: his songs are addressed to a single, intimate “du,” and Tauber’s talents—vocal power at the expense of dramatic specificity—focused on the aural rather than visual (and his costume as a Chinese prince further restricted his physical expression). But Tauber’s conspicuous and well-publicized variations in these encores restored an element of theatricality and aura to his live performance, as well as highlighting his technical skill.
 
The Schlager and recording technology’s power to speak intimately to the individual and simultaneously create a collective has been recognized by critics such as Adorno and Benjamin and has been more recently studied by Brian Currid. Yet Tauber and Lehár’s fusion of Schlager and operetta was not a marriage of solely commercial convenience. In this performance, Lehár and Tauber positioned their work as a high art experience for a mass audience. Tauber invited audiences to be connoisseurs, and Lehár’s self-proclaimed seriousness similarly positioned their work as artistically significant. Both men were wary of operatic modernism, and in their conservative musical style found a mainstream integration of operatic and popular musical idioms which had widespread appeal in Weimar Berlin.

About the Speaker

Micaela Baranello is assistant professor of music at the University of Arkansas. Her book-in-progress, The Operetta Empire, is a study of twentieth-century Viennese operetta and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her work on operetta and on opera staging has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Opera Quarterly, Puccini and His World, Cambridge Opera Journal, and Nineteenth-Century Music Review. She is also a freelance writer and critic for The New York Times and serves as marketing director of Opera Fayetteville, Arkansas’s only professional opera company specializing in new opera. Micaela holds a PhD in musicology from Princeton University, where she received a Mellon-ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship and a Fulbright grant.
Micaela Baranello