Mary Gluck, Professor of History and Comparative Literature at Brown University, Providence, explores the phenomenon of the Budapest Orpheum, which pioneered one of Central Europe’s most important and vibrant entertainment industries during the years between 1880 and 1914.
The years between 1880 and 1914 represented the golden age of the Budapest Orpheum. The institution was famous not only for its scandalous entertainment, but also for its mixed audiences, which included market women, shop assistants and office clerks; as well as middle-class professionals, members of the nobility and the provincial gentry. The social promiscuity of Budapest Orpheums is illustrated by the “Blaue Katze,” a music hall patronized by the Archduke Rudolf himself, who frequently traveled to Budapest to sample the city's famous nightlife. The phenomenon of the Orpheum poses some serious historical and cultural questions for the researcher. What kind of cultural work did the Orpheum perform in the modernizing city? What kinds of social and symbolic spaces did it open up for the creation and performance of modern identity?