Book

Tin Pan Opera

Larry Hamberlin

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195338928
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855865 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338928.001.0001
Tin Pan Opera

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The years between 1900 and 1920 mark a moment of change in the relations between opera and popular music in the United States, a midpoint between the intimate connection of the nineteenth century and the widening gulf of the later twentieth century. This book describes Tin Pan Alley songs that quote operatic melodies, describe opera singers or operatic characters, or in other ways allude to operatic culture. These verbal and musical allusions illuminate social issues that the songs address either indirectly or directly in a comical way, as novelties. Part 1 considers songs that use Italian opera, and especially singers such as Enrico Caruso, to comment on the period's massive wave of immigration from southern Italy. Part 2 treats songs that respond to first-wave feminism either by satirizing female opera singers or appropriating the heroines of two operas that premiered in the first decade of the century, Strauss's Salome and Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The songs in part 3 use opera and its lowbrow opposite, ragtime, to debate the cultural aspirations of African Americans, expressing the era's growing awareness that America's most valuable musical contribution might be not its symphonies and operas but its vernacular music, rooted in black ethnicity but emblematic of the nation as a whole. Tin Pan Opera demonstrates how opera's role in the popular culture of the early twentieth century was only scarcely less extensive than in the nineteenth.

Keywords: opera; ragtime; Tin Pan Alley; popular music; immigration; feminism; Salome; Madama Butterfly; ethnicity

Book.  344 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Opera

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Tin Pan Opera

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Visions of Salome in Tin Pan Opera

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Conclusion in Tin Pan Opera

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