Opera and Musical Theater in the United States

An International Conference and Festival

March 24-25, 2018
John Bragg Media and Entertainment Bldg., Room 104

Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN

Organized and hosted by:

mtsu School of Music
Center for Popular Music
Center for Chinese Music and Culture


Conference Program Committee
Elizabeth Craft Ph.D. (Musical Theater in the US)
Jeongwon Joe Ph.D. (Film Music and Opera-Cinema Studies)
Christina Fuhrmann Ph.D. (Baldwin Wallace University)
Christopher Smith Ph.D. (19th & 20th century American vernaculars, Arts Practice, pedagogy)
Cecilia J Pang Ph.D. (University of Colorado)
Naomi Graber Ph.D. (University of Georgia)
Sasha Metcalf Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University)
Reba Wissner Ph.D. (Television Music, Baroque opera, and Italian-American Immigrant Musical Theater)


Saturday, March 24, 2018


9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Session I: Infiltrations and Dislocations—Uptown, Southern Parlors and the University

Chair: TBD

  • Virginia Lamothe, Ph.D. (Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley), “Dislocation of Language and Place in the Re-creation of Blackness in Williams’ and Walker’s Abyssinia (1906).”
  • Candace Bailey, Ph.D. (Women and Music in the 19th Century U.S. South), “Going “Opera Mad” in the 1850s: European Opera and Women’s Parlor Culture in the Antebellum South."
  • Monica Hershberger, Ph.D. (American Opera during the Cold War), “American Opera and the American University: Douglas Moore, Columbia University, and the University of Kansas.”

 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Dr. PrestonKeynote 1:Filling in the Gaps: English-Language Opera and the Late-Century American Audience for Musical Drama” Prof. Katherine K. Preston, Ph.D. (Music Theatre (including opera) in 19th century America)









1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Session 2: Transnational Black Identity in Early-Twentieth-Century African American Opera Theater

Chair: Christopher Smith Ph.D. (19th & 20th century American vernaculars, Arts Practice, pedagogy)

  • Kristen Turner, Ph.D., (Early 20th century American Popular Culture), “Visions of Africa in Early Black Musical Theater.”
  • Kori Hill, (Black American Classical Music) ““Sing to Me Again, O Defileé, the Songs Our People Crooned in Africa!”: Black Women as Culture Bearers in Clarence Cameron White’s Ouanga!”
  • Lucy Caplan, (African American Opera) “Afrodiasporic History on the Operatic Stage: Shirley Graham’s Tom-Tom (1932).”

 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM

Parallel Session 3a: Intersections, Remixes, and Reversals

Chair: Elizabeth Craft Ph.D. (Musical Theater in the US)

  • Kate Galloway, Ph.D., (20th/21st century music; music, media and technology; music, environment and geospatial analysis) “Circulating, Remixing, and Remediating Hamilton: The American Musical and Social Activism in the Time of Web 2.0.”
  • Daniel Jenkins, Ph.D., (Musical Theater/Leonard Bernstein) ““I’ll Cover You”: Intersectionality and Queer Broadway Covers.”
  • Nathan Beary Blustein, (Broadway Musical Theater) ““Meet​ ​the​ ​Blob”:​ ​Solo-to-Ensemble​ ​“Reverse​ ​Reprises”​ ​in​ ​Merrily​ ​We​ ​Roll​ ​Along.

 Parallel Session 3b: Opera, Politics, and the Met

Chair: Reba Wissner (Television Music, Baroque opera, and Italian-American Immigrant Musical Theater)

  • Kunio Hara, Ph.D. (Late 19th Century Italian Opera) “Reviving Cio-Cio-San: Return of Madama Butterfly to the Metropolitan Opera after World War II.”
  • Marianne Betz, Ph.D. (American Music; George W. Chadwick) “The History of an Unperformed Opera: George Whitefield Chadwick’s The ”
  • Gwen D’Amico, Ph.D. (Richard Wagner: Reception and Gender Studies) “Opera and Politics: Die Meistersinger at the Intersection of New York City and World War II.”

 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM Dinner

Saturday Evening: Opera Performance Andrew Barton’s The Disappointment: or the Force of Credulity


Sunday, March 25, 2018

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Session 4: New Spaces and Technologies

Chair: Jeongwon Joe Ph.D. (Film Music and Opera-Cinema Studies)

  • Kathryn Caton, (New Opera and Interdisciplinary Studies) “Imagined Memory in Christopher Cerrone's Invisible Cities."
  • Brooke McCorkle, Ph.D. (Wagner, Opera, and Film) “Opera of Attractions.”
  • Shersten Johnson, Ph.D, (21st-century opera, operatic film adaptations, and digital delivery) “Reconfigured Audiovisual Spaces in the Met’s HD Productions.”

 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM   

Dr. LamKeynote 2 Prof. Joseph Lam, Ph.D., University of Michigan











11:45 AM - 12:30 PM

Demonstration: Kunqu performers

Chen RuiChen Rui is a Chinese actor with the Jiangsu Kunqu opera troupe who seeks to bring new life to classical Chinese opera, not only by performing them, but by reforming and presenting them to a variety of audiences. Chen was invited by the University of London and the SOAS to give a talk and performed Kunqu in 2014 and 2016. In 2016, Chen traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to give a lecture on Kunqu opera commemorating the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Xianzu and Shakespeare at the Gammelgaard Culture and Arts Exchange Center. He performed “The Startling Dream” and “Seeking the Portrait” from The Peony Pavilion and “Sweeping Pine Needles” from The Tale of the Pipa. In attendance were members from the cultural office of China’s embassy in Denmark and the Chinese Cultural Center of Copenhagen. Chen’s lectures and performances have been well received and covered by the Chinese Overseas Network and English news channel, China Central Television.  

Fan CaoFan Cao is a senior studying at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, majoring in Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera performance. Ms. Cao began to learn Beijing Opera when she was 10 years old. She performed Kunqu at the World Heritage Day in Beijing in 2017. She also performed at Chinese traditional opera spring gala at China’s National Grand Theater in 2015.









1:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Session 5: History Musicals and Unlikely Subjects

Chair: Naomi Graber Ph.D. (University of Georgia)

  • Elissa Harbert, Ph.D. (History Musicals) “Unlikely Subjects: The Reception of History Musicals from 1776 to Hamilton.”
  • Dan Blim, Ph.D. (Broadway Musicals) ““Someone Tell the Story”: Historiography, Humor, and Controversy in Assassins and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”
  • Brent Auerbach, (Music Theory - Tonality and Motive) ““But It was Home:” Marvin Hamlisch’s “At the Ballet” Forges a Family through Text, Motive, Form, and Dance."

 3:30 PM - 5:30PM

Session 6: Semiotics, Topics and voice.

Chair: Jacqueline Avila, Ph.D. (Mexican cinema, sound studies, cultural identity, film music)

  • Martha Sullivan, (Voice, Gender, Embodiment, Topic Theory) “Modern Sirens: Semiotics of a Musical Topos in 20th- and 21st-Century American Opera.”
  • Thomas Posen, (Bernstein, Gershwin, and the History of Music Theory) “The Patterns of Grand Opera on Broadway: A Semiotic Approach.”
  • Jeongwon Joe, (Film Music and Opera-Cinema Studies) “Meredith Monk’s Atlas (1977) and John Zorn’s La Machine de l’être (2010): Operatic Voice Beyond Meaning.”