The Metropolis Experiment

Kevin Clarke
Operetta Research Center
3 May, 2014

The Wien Museum Karlsplatz will open a new exhibition entitled Experiment Metropole on 5 May, 2014. It will focus on Vienna 1873 and the World Exhibition of that year. Of course, the early 1870s did not only see the transformation of Vienna from a rather provincial town to a modern metropolis à la Paris, it also saw the triumphant rise of the new genre “operetta” that defined, in many ways, way the new metropolis was all about.

Poster for the exhibition "Experiment Moderne" at the Wien Museum.

Poster for the exhibition “Experiment Moderne” at the Wien Museum.

You might remember, it was Marion Linhardt who extensively researched the transformation of Vienna in the 1870s and the impact that had on operetta. Her book Residenzstadt und Metropole (“Zu einer kulturellen Topographie des Wiener Unterhaltungstheaters 1858-1918″) is a classic, sadly only available in German. Linhardt eloquently describes how the new image Vienna wanted to attain for itself was reflected in the new operettas that became popular in Vienna at the time, starting with the import of Offenbach’s scandalous shows from Paris and continueing with the new shows written by Austrian composers such as Franz von Suppé and Johann Strauss.

The Wien Museum has placed Offenbach’s “naughty” superstar Josefine Gallmeyer in their flyer for this exhibition. They also offer a rich program of events surrounding the exhibit. On 5 September, there will be a talk given by Herbert Zottl from the Wiener Volksliedwerk on “Vorstadt-Etablissements” (“Where there was singing and dancing in 1870″). It remains to be seen whether operetta as a genre and popular theater form will play any role in this exhibition – or Zettl’s talk.

Why Marion Linhardt hasn’t been invited to discuss the operetta experiments of 1873 remains anyone’s guess. But the exhibition promises a richly rewarding wealth of photographs, one way or another.

For more information, click here.