Journal article

There and Back Again: Zeitoper and the Transatlantic Search for a Uniquely American Opera in the 1920s

JOHN GABRIEL

Journal of the Society for American Music | Cambridge University Press (CUP) | Published : 2019

Abstract

This article argues that in the late 1920s, the German genre of Zeitoper paradoxically became an essential component of the search for a new kind of uniquely American opera, resulting in a transatlantic cycle of mutual influence. This influence was possible because Germans and Americans alike saw the United States as the embodiment of modern life and technology. American producers and composers thus adapted German Zeitoper to bring it more in line with Americans’ self-image. I examine this dynamic by juxtaposing two German and two American Zeitopern, looking specifically at their engagement with jazz, film, race, and American popular musical theater: Paul Hindemith's Hin und zurück, Marc Bli..

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