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Mari Yoshihara

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190465780

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190465780.001.0001

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A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

(p.118) 12 A Quiet Place
Dearest Lenny

Mari Yoshihara

Oxford University Press

With a joint commission by the Houston Grand Opera, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Teatro alla Scala, Leonard Bernstein undertook a serious new endeavor he had long wished for: the composition of a serious opera. By collaborating with librettist Stephen Wadsworth, Bernstein sought to create an “American opera” that took on real-life issues of the contemporary United States and expressed them in a distinctly American language. He centered the opera A Quiet Place on the issues of gender, sexuality, and family, which drove American politics during this period. The rising New Right turned “family values” into an ideology, the battle over which was further fueled by the AIDS epidemic. In the highly charged political environment of Houston, where the opera premiered, Bernstein challenged the prevailing social mores and eloquently advocated for AIDS research and support.

Keywords:   Leonard Bernstein, A Quiet Place, opera, Houston Grand Opera, AIDS epidemic, homosexuality, family values, New Right

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