This chapter investigates the uses and functions of musical theater within the sociopolitical fabric of Portuguese America. It examines its role in the narratives produced in the context of civic festivals and literary academies and how these texts and practices engaged individuals from all layers of colonial society as subjects of the Portuguese empire. It also considers the civilian and political uses of theater as an ideological tool, a means of acquiring and maintaining symbolic capital, and in some cases even a distraction from the wrongdoings of colonial administrators. The last section of the chapter deals with the presence of the Portuguese court in Rio de Janeiro at the dawn of independence, when theater became the locus of political and aesthetic controversies that placed newly arrived Portuguese and local Brazilians on opposite sides. The controversy surrounding the drama O juramento dos numes is at the core of this discussion.
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