Opera and National Identity
This chapter argues for the significance of Lucullus in the nation-building project undertaken by both the ruling SED (Socialist Unity Party) and prominent intellectuals in the Soviet-Occupied Zone, subsequently the German Democratic Republic. It highlights the agreement that opera had a role to play, but its form, its message, and its sound were major points of contention between SED leadership and intellectuals returning from exile in the West. The Trial of Lucullus (Das Verhör des Lukullus) and its attendant dispute marked a watershed moment in the development of cultural policy in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Because portraying the Lucullus controversy as an early step in a regime's ineluctable course to repression ignores the genuine, messy processes through which a young nation attempted to establish its identity and the familiar, nation-building role opera played in that agenda.
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