Show Boat entered the American opera house in 1954 and has slowly solidified its position as appropriate for the opera stage during a period when racial stereotypes on the musical stage were undergoing much transformation. This chapter considers three key steps in Show Boat's metamorphosis from Broadway musical to opera: William Hammerstein's 1954 production for the New York City Opera, a widely-seen 1980s version mounted by Houston Grand Opera, and the 1988 EMI-Angel recording of the “complete” Show Boat (including all cut and added numbers) led by John McGlinn. The use of operatic voices in a musical theater work and the enduring resonance of Hammerstein's use of the n- word are discussed.
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