Gasta to discuss the discovery of the first operas in the New World in Dean’s Lecture tomorrow, Oct. 30

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The discovery of the first operas in the New World and their importance as examples of cross-cultural collaboration between Europeans and Indians will be discussed at Iowa State University on October 30.

Chad Gasta

Chad Gasta, professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, will present “Manipulating Culture after the Conquest: The First Operas in the New World” on Thursday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room. This fall 2014 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Lecture is free and open to the public.

During his presentation students and faculty from the Department of Music will provide musical accompaniment, including a vocal performance of an opera in the native Chiquitano language of central Bolivia.

“The audience will learn about the development of the first operas in the New World, which were performed in the early 18th century in Lima, Peru, and in the Jesuit missions of modern-day Bolivia,” Gasta said.

One of the most interesting topics related to opera, said Gasta, is its role as a tool of political persuasion and propaganda. He said that the relationship between the arts and prevailing powers is essential in understanding the power struggles between Spain’s New World Colonies.

His presentation will also describe how early opera embodies the cross-cultural collaborative spaces between Europeans and Indians, challenging what has been assumed about Spain’s one-way dominance in all its colonies.

“I am intrigued by the complex socio-political climate in Spain’s colonies that would even make it possible to stage opera despite very difficult economic times and political turmoil,” said Gasta.

Gasta is the author of a recent book on the subject, Transatlantic Arias: Early Opera in Spain and the New World. Since 2001 Gasta has been teaching courses related to Hispanic literature and culture at Iowa State University.

In addition to serving as the chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures and co-director of the Languages and Cultures for Professions (LCP) second major option, he is also the director of the International Studies Program and co-directs the ISU on the Mediterranean – Summer in Valencia, Spain program.

The Dean’s Lecture Series is coordinated by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and is cosponsored by the University Committee on Lectures (funded by the Government of the Student Body). A reception will follow the lecture.

EXTRA: Read the Ames Tribune story on Gasta’s lecture.

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Contacts Chad M. Gasta, World Languages and Cultures, 515-294-0918 ( Kelsey Roehrich, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, ( Laura Wille, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, (515) 294-7742 (