Musical Theatre as a Paradigm of Translocation


  • Laurence Senelick



“Omni-local”, a concept promoted by the classicist Emily Greenwood, is a variation on “transglobal.” It describes a work significant enough to be influential in a wide sphere but which undergoes local adaptation to ensure its reception. In the sphere of performance, this can be observed in the commedia dell’arte, opera and musical theatre. A prime example for the nineteenth century is the comic operas of Jacques Offenbach, which achieved global success, with varying effect, depending on the nature of their introduction and of the host societies. In Rio de Janeiro, they aided liberalization, abolition of slavery and the development of carnaval. In Cairo, imposed from above, they were meant to promote Westernization, but ultimately made to advance Arabic culture. In Japan, they were first viewed as an outlandish novelty, but over the decades became acclimatized and assimilated into indigenous popular entertainment.