Cambridge Opera Journal

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Regular Article

Racial essences and historical invisibility: Chinese opera in New York, 1930 1



Describing the performances of two Chinese opera groups – the visiting famous opera singer Mai Lan-fang and his troupe on Broadway and the local San Sai Gai troupe in Chinatown – and their reception by non-Chinese Americans, this essay tracks various formations and effects of Chinese images in 1930s New York that were deeply imprinted in popular imagination. The regrettable invisibility of Chinese opera in American music history is a result of such a pre-constructed concept of Chineseness.


1 I am grateful to the late Irene Alm for her enthusiasm and steadfast encouragement on the project.