Author Larry Hamberlin guides us through this large but oft-forgotten repertoire of operatic novelties, and brings to life the rich humor and keen social criticism of the era. In the early twentieth-century, when new social forces were undermining the view that our European heritage was intrinsically superior to our native vernacular culture, opera-that great inheritance from our European forebearers-functioned in popular discourse as a signifier for elite culture. Tin Pan Opera shows that these operatic novelty songs availed this connection to a humorous and critical end. Combining traditional, European operatic melodies with the new and American rhythmic verve of ragtime, these songs painted vivid images of immigrant Americans, liberated women, and upwardly striving African Americans, striking emblems of the profound transformations that shook the United States at the beginning of the American century.
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