October 26: Lisa Mumme

‘Angelica di voce’: Ángela Peralta as Nineteenth-Century Diva

Mexican soprano Ángela Peralta (1845–1883) conducted a successful international career as an opera singer, impresario, and composer. Mexican writers pointedly compared Peralta to  European prima donnas like Jenny Lind (1820–1887) and Adelina Patti (1843–1919), inviting analysis of Peralta in the context of the nineteenth-century diva. Drawing on Anna Ochs’s archival work; reviews of Peralta’s performances in Mexican, American, and European periodicals; and scholarship on the nineteenth-century diva by scholars like Roberta Montemorra Marvin, this paper considers how Peralta’s racial identity and physical appearance mark her as Other within the diva archetype. Consideration of Peralta as diva offers a different perspective on the resonances of both gendered discourse about female performers’ appearances and tensions between Mexican nationalist and European colonialist values.

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