Horatio Parker's Mona: an experiment in American grand opera
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Horatio William Parker (1863-1919) was a prominent American composer who belonged to the Second New England School (the "Boston Six"), and served as the Dean of Music at Yale University from 1904 until his death. His opera Mona (Opus 71) was created in collaboration with his librettist, Brian Hooker (1880-1946), as an entry to a contest that was being held by the Metropolitan Opera Company for the best English-language opera written by an American-born composer. Parker and Hooker won the contest, and received $10,000 in prize money along with a production of Mona at the Met. The contest generated a considerable amount of interest in the American musical community, and sparked debate concerning the characteristics that should epitomize "American" opera. After difficult rehearsals and extensive revisions, Mona premiered on March 14'h, 1912. Despite its lavish production, the opera was met with a lukewarm reception by the American public, and failed to make its way into the permanent repertory of the Met. Willie American opera of this era was commonly criticized for being simple and frivolous, Mona is notable for being a serious opera of considerable complexity that was ultimately rejected by the American public. The opera is also significant in that it seems to mark a turning point in Parker's biography, after which he placed greater emphasis on the popular appeal of his compositions.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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