• MA and PhD, musicology, Princeton University
  • BA, music, Swarthmore College

Micaela Baranello is a musicologist specializing in the staging and reception of opera and musical theater from the 19th century to the present day. Her current project, tentatively entitled Opera Reclaimed, examines how contemporary stagings of canonical operas intersect with questions of social justice and identity. Her work on this topic has already been published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (“Staging Opera Ballet”) as well as The New York Times, where she has written as a critic and reporter covering the Bayreuth Festival, Aix-en-Provence, the Bavarian State Opera, and other major venues and events.

Her first book, The Operetta Empire: Music Theater in Early Twentieth-Century Vienna, published by the University of California Press, examines Vienna’s operetta industry in the final decades and aftermath of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including how works by composers like Franz Lehár and Emmerich Kálmán articulated both imperial and national identities. It was named an Outstanding Academic Title by CHOICE in 2022 and called “a deeply satisfying and fascinating book” by Opera Magazine. Her interests also include cultures of Weimar Republic Berlin, the work of Richard Strauss and the careers of emigré operetta composers in America. Her work has also been published in several edited volumes, Cambridge Opera Journal, the Financial Times and Opera Quarterly, for which she is currently reviews editor. She is also a member of the council of the American Musicological Society. 

Baranello teaches classes on Western art music, opera, musical theater and related topics. At prior institutions she has advised undergraduate and graduate theses on topics such as Mahler and translation, Puccini’s America, staging revivals of Oklahoma!, and gender diversity in clarinet repertoire. She welcomes inquiries from prospective grad students.

She previously was assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. As president of Opera Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas’s only professional opera company, she produced the Arkansas premieres of several operas, including Dark Sisters and Glory Denied. Baranello also taught at Smith College as McPherson-Eveillard Postdoctoral Fellow and at Swarthmore College as Visiting Assistant Professor. She holds a PhD and MA in musicology from Princeton University, where she was supported by a Mellon/ACLS fellowship and a Fulbright study grant (Austria); she also studied music as an undergraduate just outside Philadelphia at Swarthmore College.


The Operetta Empire: Music Theater in Early Twentieth-Century Vienna, University of California Press, 2021.

  • Outstanding Academic Title, CHOICE, 2022
  • Apex 2021, The Rest is Noise
  • Reviews: New York Review of Books, Music & Letters, Cambridge Opera Journal, German History, Opera Magazine, Notes, CHOICE

Articles and Book Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)

“Franz Lehár’s Friederike as Weimar Middlebrow,” Cambridge Opera Journal, published open access (March 2023)

“Canonical Operetta and the Journey to Prestige” in The Oxford Handbook of the Operatic Canon, ed. William Weber and Cormac Newark (June 2020)

“The Operetta Factory,” chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Operetta, ed. Derek Scott and Anastasia Belina-Johnson (November 2019)

 “Singing Love and Dancing War: The Ballo in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria” in Performing Homer: The Voyage of Ulysses from Epic to Opera, Routledge (July 2019)

“Staging Grand Opera Ballet,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 71, no. 1 (Spring 2018), colloquy on opera and sexual violence

Operettendämmerung: The Failures of Wagnerian Operetta,” Opera Quarterly 33, no. 1 (Winter 2017), operetta theme issue, ed. Carolyn Abbate and Flora Willson, pp. 28-48

 “The Swallow and the Lark: Puccini and Viennese Operetta,” chapter in Puccini and His World, ed. Arman Schwartz and Emanuele Senici (Princeton University Press, Bard Music Festival series, 2016), pp. 111-132

“Viennese Blood: Immigration and Emigration in Viennese Operetta,” chapter in Watersheds: Poetics and Politics of the Danube River, ed. Matthew Miller and Marijeta Bozovic (Academic Studies Press, 2016), pp. 53-69

Arabella, Operetta, and the Triumph of Gemütlichkeit,” Opera Quarterly 31, no. 4 (Autumn 2015), Richard Strauss theme issue, ed. Wayne Heisler, pp. 199-222

“Operetta,” entry in Oxford Bibliographies in Music (2015)

Die lustige Witwe and the Creation of the Silver Age of Viennese Operetta,” Cambridge Opera Journal, 26, no. 2 (summer 2014), pp. 175-202

Selected Non-Scholarly Work

Il trittico, program note for Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (to be published 2023)

“A King Arthur Rarity is an Apt Way to Return to Opera,” The New York Times, July 23, 2021

“Operetta’s America,” complete curation, concert program narration, and program note, Bard Music Festival, August 2019 (part of “Korngold and His World”)

“Offenbach’s ‘Fabulous Nonsense’ Hits Salzburg,” The New York Times, August 10, 2019

“Requiem,” Financial Times, July 8, 2019

“Tosca,” Financial Times, July 5, 2019

“Welcoming a Black Female Composer into the Canon,” The New York Times, February 9, 2018

“In Europe, Opera Takes on Our Time,” The New York Times, July 21, 2017

“Limits of Perspective: On Franz Lehár’s Operetta The Land of Smiles in Zürich” VAN, July 20, 2017

“Carmen, Boldly Rewritten as Therapy for a Modern Man,” The New York Times, July 5, 2017

“Updating the House Wagner Built,” The New York Times, August 16, 2015

“When Cries of Rape Are Heard in Opera Halls,” The New York Times, July 17, 2015


Review of Esther Morgan-Ellis, ed., Resonances, Open Textbook Library, February 2021

Review of Gundula Kreutzer, Curtain, Gong, Steam, College Music Symposium, April 2019

Review of Michael Hampe, The Crafty Art of Opera (Boydell, 2016), Notes 74, no. 2 (December 2017), pp. 267-269

Review-essay, “Late nineteenth century opera and the curse of the effective,” review of books by Alessandra Campana and Karen Henson, Cambridge Opera Journal 28 no. 3 (November 2016), pp. 363-371

Review of David Brodbeck, Defining Deutschtum (University of California Press, 2014), Nineteenth-Century Music Review 13 no. 2 (December 2016), pp. 344-348

Review of Evan Baker, From Score to Stage (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Notes 71 no. 4 (June 2015), pp. 699-701