• Opera and Society in Early-Twentieth-Century Argentina: Felipe Boero's 'El Matrero'

    Jonathan Sauceda (see profile)
    Music, Latin American, Musicology, Opera
    Item Type:
    University of North Texas
    Latin American music
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    El matrero (1929) by Felipe Boero (1884-1958) remains underexplored in terms of its social milieu and artistic heritage. The opera draws on myths of the gaucho and takes further inspiration from the energized intellectual environment surrounding the one-hundred-year anniversary of Argentine Independence. More than simply a story told in the popular gauchesco style, the work is a kind of origin story with supposedly authentic depictions of rural life that present a model for contemporary sociabilities informed by the Krausism and liberalism of the era. A critical analysis allows the musical styles to be considered to articulate a social hierarchy marked by Krausist organicism already hinted at in the text. The various character groups of the opera have distinct voices that reveal separate classes. In line with current Argentine thought rooted in the nineteenth century and the Centenary, and due to the work's status as an origin story, the relationships between the groups may be seen to represent a model for contemporary society with the elite successfully managing the affairs of their underlings. The music helps articulate these relationships with moments of diegetic gauchesco music-making being relegated to the voices and bodies of the lower classes and the representatives of the upper class speaking with a mixture of art music styles and a sublimated folkloric style. The combined study of text and music reveals an Occidentalist perspective with the native Argentine elements subordinated to the European. In spite of their lower sociopolitical position, the folk are not despised but given a coherent musical language with which to express themselves, and the higher characters are musically united to their gaucho compatriots. The combination of musical styles creates an engaging, complex tapestry more than worthy of considered study and appreciation.
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    5 years ago
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