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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

Between the Frontier and the French Quarter: Operatic Travel Writing and Nineteenth-Century New Orleans

Between the Frontier and the French Quarter: Operatic Travel Writing and Nineteenth-Century New Orleans

Chapter:
(p.105) Eight Between the Frontier and the French Quarter: Operatic Travel Writing and Nineteenth-Century New Orleans
Source:
Operatic Geographies
Author(s):

Charlotte Bentley

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226596150.003.0008

For much of the nineteenth century, opera was a fundamental part of social life in New Orleans, but little attention has been paid to the way in which the vibrant opera scene shaped perceptions of the city and its geography within the United States and abroad. This chapter, therefore, sets out to explore these perceptions through the travel writing of Charles Jobey, a Frenchman who spent several years playing for operas in New Orleans as the principal bassoonist in the francophone theater’s orchestra. Published in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century, these little-known works, with their intricate blurring of fact and fiction, reveal that there was a complex entanglement between opera and questions of local, national and global identity for the people of New Orleans; at the same time, the stories use opera as a literary device through which to ‘translate’ a foreign locale for a Parisian readership. Focusing on two of Jobey’s stories, L’Amour d’un nègre (1860) and Le Lac Cathahoula (1861), this chapter argues that the scenes featuring New Orleans’s operatic life open up new perspectives on European visions of the United States and allow us to examine the nature of transatlantic cultural interaction in the period.

Keywords:   New Orleans, Charles Jobey, French opera, travel writing, nineteenth century, Paris, United States

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