Christy Thomas

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

Christy Thomas received her Ph.D. with distinction from Yale University. As a music historian with a background in both art history and history, she incorporates interdisciplinary materials and approaches in her teaching and her research to complement the study of notated and recorded music with a myriad of sources that contribute to the broader networks in which music exists. In her research, she considers the evolving responses of the Italian opera industry to the emerging media technologies from the 1890s through the first decades of the twentieth century, focusing particularly on Casa Ricordi, the foremost Italian music publisher of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Ultimately, Professor Thomas’s research revises the prevailing understanding of the relationship between opera and media technologies within larger cultural frameworks. By offering an alternative to current constructions of their historical relationship, her research reshapes the discourse on the historical and contemporary connections between opera and media technologies, and is thus of transdisciplinary relevance for musicologists, film historians, cultural historians, and media and performance scholars.

Professor Thomas has published in The Opera Quarterly and is working on a book project tentatively entitled Operatic Encounters with New Media: Sound Recording and Silent Cinema that will serve as a broad and systematic study of historical operatic encounters with emerging technological media in the first decades of the twentieth century. Her broad research interests include the history and theory of opera, reception studies, cultural history, and the theoretical and conceptual issues of performance and mediation. A classically trained singer, she also sings with Opera Maine and the Oratorio Chorale.

In her teaching, Professor Thomas uses music history and theory to teach the transferrable skills foundational to a liberal arts education. She also looks for ways to connect the subject matter in her courses with other departments and disciplines such as history, art history, languages, theater and dance, cinema studies, and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. She has taught courses on opera and gender, the historical intersections between music and technology, and the interplay between music and drama in operas and musicals, as well as historical surveys of Western classical music, introductory music theory, and tonal analysis.


  • B.A., McDaniel College; Westminster, Maryland
  • M.A., Yale University; New Haven, Connecticut
  • Ph.D., Yale University; New Haven, Connecticut

Publications & Conferences

Scoring the Silents: Casa Ricordi and Savoia Film’s Germania (1914)
The Transnational Opera Studies Conference in Bern (tosc@bern.2017) (5-7 July)

From Operatic Stage to Silent Screen: Casa Ricordi and Film d’Arte Italiana’s 1911 Aida
Article in The Opera Quarterly, Vol. 32/3

“A Combination Made for Experiment”: Casa Ricordi, Aida, and Opera on Screen in 1911
American Musicological Society, Vancouver 2016 (3-6 November)

2015 When Opera Met Film: Copyright and the Implications of Cinema
The Transnational Opera Studies Conference in Bologna (tosc@bologna.2015) (30 June-2 July)
Harvard Graduate Music Forum Conference, Work & Play: Economies of Music (20-21 February)

Opera in the Light of Technology: Ricordi and the Emergence of Italian Cinema
Music and the Moving Image Conference, NYU Steinhardt (29-31 May)
SUNY Stony Brook Graduate Music Symposium (13-14 February)

2013 “Women in Jazz” (Encyclopedia Entry)
ABC-CLIO Encyclopedia of American Music and Culture

The Wagnerian Element of Redemption: The Function of Narrative in the Copenhagen Ring, On Stage and On Screen
Music and the Moving Image Conference, NYU Steinhardt (1-3 June)

Selected Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards

2015 Conference Travel Fellowship (Yale University)

2013-2014 Fulbright Fellowship—Italy

2013-2014 MacMillan Center Dissertation Research Grant (Yale University)

2013 Beinecke Summer Research Fellowship (Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscripts Library)

2012 Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship—Italy (US Department of Education)

2009-2011 Richard J. Franke Fellowship (Yale University)

2009 US History Award (McDaniel College)

2008 SHEAR-Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Invited and Other Talks

Spring 2016 “A Combination Made for Experiment”: Casa Ricordi and Opera on Screen, 1911-1914 (Yale University)
Formal talk at Yale University Department of Music weekly talk series

Spring 2015 Regulating Operatic Boundaries: Copyright and the Emergence of Cinema (University of Pennsylvania)
Invited talk at University of Pennsylvania Opera Workshop series

Fall 2012 Puccini e la musica della fine del primo atto di La bohème (Yale University)
Invited lecture in Italian for an advanced Italian course (Italiano attraverso opera e cinema