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Show BoatPerforming Race in an American Musical$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759378.001.0001

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Show Boat

Todd Decker

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   John McGlinn, William Hammerstein, Julius Rudel, Bruce Hubbard, William C. Smith, American opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, n-word

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