This chapter shows how Joseph Urban started out designing everyday things for Main Street after moving out from Broadway. He started out small, with his costume designs being taken as patterns for evening gowns by just one or two well-connected ladies in Boston. By the time America emerged from World War I with a fresh sense of national confidence, he was in a position to influence fashions of dress and decor. Fashion may seem something trivial, yet it colors our experience of everything around us, and Urban played a significant role in defining the vibrant, elegant twenties. His example was the catalyst, encouraging other scene designers to move outside theater and opening the eyes of industrialists to the potential advantages of using aesthetics from the stage for commercial products. When Urban was recruited to head the Boston Opera in 1911, no one could have predicted it—and indeed his appointment very nearly did not happen.
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