Friday, July 27, 2012

"Opera and the City"

New from Stanford University Press: Opera and the City: The Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770-1900 by Andrea Goldman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In late imperial China, opera was an integral part of life and culture, shared across the social hierarchy. Opera transmitted ideas about the self, family, society, and politics over time and space. The Qing capital of Beijing attracted a diverse array of opera genres and audiences and, by extension, served as a hub for the diffusion of cultural values via performance.

It is in this context that historian Andrea S. Goldman harnesses opera as a lens through which to examine urban cultural history. Her meticulous yet playful account takes up the multiplicity of opera types that proliferated at the time, exploring them as contested sites through which the Qing court and commercial playhouses negotiated influence and control over the social and moral order. Opera performance refracted ethnic tensions and discontent among literati, blurred lines between public and private life, and offered a stage—literally and figuratively—on which to act out gender and class transgressions.

By examining opera in Qing Beijing, this work illuminates how the state and various urban constituencies partook of opera and manipulated it to their own ends. Given Beijing's political influence, Goldman's analysis of opera and its tensions in the capital also sheds light on empire-wide transformations underway at the time.