Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

Committee Chair

Charles Ross

Committee Member 1

Beate Allert

Committee Member 2

Charles Ganelin

Committee Member 3

Howard Mancing


Calderón de la Barca, a highly philosophical and religious playwright, focused the final part of his career on experimenting with musical court theater. My dissertation explains the motivation behind Calderón’s implementation of music in his theatrical productions and the situation that led him to create the new dramatic genre of zarzuela. This project analyzes the evolution of early modern musical theater in Spain by observing musical elements that are reflected in the text and related to characters and themes in the plays. A reflection on musical conventions in European theater, through the use of cognitive theories, studies on music and emotions, and the world of senses, helps us to analyze Calderón’s musical discourse. This study aims to demonstrate that the use of music in Calderón’s works highlights the lyrical text, rather than the visual effects.