Creating a Dutch national opera : opera in the Netherlands during the German occupation, 1940-45 / by Jeanne Marie Thompson.
The German occupation of the Netherlands (1940–45) produced remarkable changes in Dutch operatic life. While the Dutch had struggled for decades to create the right environment for Dutch opera to flourish, the infusion of significant government subsidies from the National Socialist regime finally provided the necessary resources to create a stable, sustainable company. As a result, the Gemeentelijk Theaterbedrijf Opera effectively became the long-desired national opera company and permanently transformed the opera scene in the Netherlands.As in Nazi Germany, opera in the occupied Netherlands was deployed for purposes of National Socialist propaganda and was an important feature of cultural-political policies. Unlike in other countries (particularly Germany and France), the Netherlands did not have a strong indigenous opera tradition in 1940. Under the new regime, Dutch artists and bureaucrats found a climate extremely hospitable to creating a “national opera company.” Using primarily archival sources, I examine the government's implementation of cultural policies and the public debate about national opera. This study discusses the relationships between the government and the opera institutions to reveal the impact of the occupation government and its policies on Dutch opera and explores how the occupation-era companies demonstrate a continuum or caesura with the past, particularly through the discourse of nationalism.I begin by creating a context for occupation-era opera with a brief history of opera in the Netherlands (1900–1939) and the debate over how to create a national company and a Dutch opera culture (Chapter One). I then turn to mechanisms and policies of the occupation government, and its initial treatment of existing opera companies (Chapter Two). Next, I examine two opera companies with close ties to the government—the Deutsches Theater in den Niederlanden and the Kameropera (Chapter Three) and the nature of the relationship of these companies to the government and their role in propaganda for the German and Dutch audiences. The largest portion of my study focuses on the GT Opera—its creation (Chapter Four) and its work (Chapter Five). Finally, I look at specific reception of operas and the rhetorical use of nationalism during the occupation period (Chapter Six).
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