"¡Viva la comedia musical!": Dramatizing genre porosity and Argentine cosmopolitanism in El fantasma de la Opereta (Carreras, 1955)

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By the early 1950s, the so-called Golden Age of Argentine cinema (1933-1955) was exhausting tried and tested methods for commercial success with mixed results. This industrial, studio-led period of film production, which coincided with the rise of fascism, Perón, and World War II, brought into stark relief discordant projections of the national in Argentine film. On the one hand, film adaptations of canonical literary texts exalting rural landscapes and the spirit of their gaucho protagonists would present elite audiences with comforting fictions of cohesion and Argentine particularity. On the other, popular comedies and melodramas riffed on working-class experiences of the metropolis, triumphantly celebrating the Argentinization of immigrant forms as emblematized in the music of the tango. This description of Golden Age Argentine cinema is perhaps overly schematic, for in reality there were many more shades of nationalism and class (dis)harmony during this turbulent period. What is certain, though, is that film critics and industry journalists, at home and abroad, were actively engaged in disputing the idea of Argentineness, or argentinidad, in film, in elevating the idea of national cinema, and in debating the gains and limitations offered by state-sanctioned investment in the sector
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-186
JournalOpera Quarterly
Issue number2-3
Early online date31 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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