In eighteenth-century Europe, artistic production was characterised by significant geographical and cultural transfer. For innumerable musicians, composers, singers, actors, authors, dramatists and translators – and the works they produced – state borders were less important than style, genre and canon. Through a series of multinational case studies a team of authors examines the mechanisms and characteristics of cultural and artistic adaptability to demonstrate the complexity and flexibility of theatrical and musical exchanges during this period.
By exploring questions of national taste, so-called cultural appropriation and literary preference, contributors examine the influence of the French canon on the European stage – as well as its eventual rejection –, probe how and why musical and dramatic materials became such prized objects of exchange, and analyse the double processes of transmission and literary cross-breeding in translations and adaptations. Examining patterns of circulation in England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, Bohemia, Austria, Italy and the United States, authors highlight:
- the role of migrant musicians in breaching national boundaries and creating a ‘musical cosmopolitanism’;
- the emergence of a specialised market in which theatre agents and local authorities negotiated contracts and productions, and recruited actors and musicians;
- the translations and rewritings of major plays such as Sheridan’s The School for scandal, Schiller’s Die Räuber and Kotzebue’s Menschenhass und Reue;
- the refashioning of indigenous and ‘national’ dramas in Europe under French Revolutionary and imperial rule.