Operatic Performances two hundred miles in the Australian bush: Staging Rural Identity, the Case of Fannie Simonsen in Wagga Wagga, 1866

Nicole Anae

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

Abstract

Accounts such as those reporting on Simonsen's appearances in Wagga Wagga defined rural audiences primarily by what they were not: metropolitan. Situating these accounts within the context of the Riverina's emergent theatre culture reveals the existence of a distinct tension between understanding the "'pioneer" as a rural identity responsible for geographic "taming," and the nineteenth century media narrative of the pioneer as something more: an importer of material artefacts and an agent of enculturation in rural communities.This chapter investigates the social and cultural discourses that informed journalistic commentary placing the central figure of performer as a key to defining Australian rural identity in the nineteenth century. The publicity about performance generally, and about French-born prima donna Fannie Simonsen (1835 - 1896) particularly, one o f the first female opera stars of international repute to perform in the Riverina district of New South Wales, suggests a heightening awareness of rural identity in the period. It involved, to some degree, not only the recognition of the cultural influence of performers as "pioneers" but also the construction of a loose consensus of what constituted the identity of rural pioneers. Simonsen's appearances in Wagga Wagga in 1866 occurred almost a decade after the establishment of both amateur and semi-amateur theatre in the Riverina district and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhere the Crows Fly Backwards
Subtitle of host publicationNotions of Rural Identity
Place of PublicationBrisbane
PublisherPost Pressed
Pages67-83
Number of pages17
Edition5
ISBN (Print)9781921214615
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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