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Tin Pan OperaOperatic Novelty Songs in the Ragtime Era$
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Larry Hamberlin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195338928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338928.001.0001

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The Operatic Italian American

The Operatic Italian American

(p.15) Chapter 1 The Operatic Italian American
Tin Pan Opera

Larry Hamberlin

Oxford University Press

This chapter and the next treat representations of Italian immigrants in operatic novelty songs. Chapter 1 examines songs in which lowbrow Italian Americans assert a right of ownership to opera that is represented as being more authentic than that of the social elite that aspired to such ownership. These songs are best understood in the context of period concepts of whiteness, in which lower-class southern Italians were construed to be closer to African Americans than to Anglo-Americans. Songs that quote Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana attest to that opera's popularity, and transformations, in the United States.

Keywords:   opera, novelty songs, Italian Americans, immigration, whiteness, Cavalleria rusticana

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