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Operatic GeographiesThe Place of Opera and the Opera House$
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Suzanne Aspden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226595962

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226596150.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

The Legal Spaces of Opera in The Hague

The Legal Spaces of Opera in The Hague

(p.12) Two The Legal Spaces of Opera in The Hague
Operatic Geographies

Rebekah Ahrendt

University of Chicago Press

How an opera house ended up on the early modern map of The Hague is a tale of urban renewal and spatial reorganization in line with many such accounts of opera’s participation in civic life. But it is also a story of how opera and law interacted, of how savvy entrepreneurs worked within (and on the margins of) a legal system. This chapter proposes reading legal documents from a different angle: for what they can tell us about the gradual, historical integration of operatic troupes into the European urban landscape. It was through legal documents—themselves negotiated through acts of performance—that opera became a legitimized space. And opera in turn helped shape law. Drawing on an extraordinarily long paper trail created by an opera company, I examine the unique governmental and juridical structures of The Hague and their interaction with the establishment of opera in the town around 1700. From obtaining permission and funding to hiring a theater and performers, the company’s participation in the town’s legal geographies transformed what was essentially outsider space into a signifier of prestige, a provider of social welfare, and a successfully redeveloped theatrical center.

Keywords:   law, space, urban renewal, contracts of association, employment contracts, legal documents, Hague, travelling opera

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