Nancy Yunhwa Rao, a professor of musicology in Mason Gross School of the Arts, received this year's National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Congratulations, Professor Rao! During her fellowship leave, she will work on her book, Transpacific Operatic Imagination: Chinese Americans in Opera.
This book will consider three histories. From the 1850s, Chinese opera was a significant and widespread musical theater practice essential to Chinese communities located throughout North America—in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Mexicali, New York, and elsewhere. The performance represents the first history. The second is a history of imagined “Chinese” opera, of yellowface works that employ the “Chinese opera trope” as a source of inspiration, as well as Western-style theatrical works based on Chinese themes or plotlines. The third is a history of contemporary operas created by Chinese Americans and performed by major U.S. opera houses. Although there is significant scholarship on the three individual histories, studies that deeply encompass all three practices are not yet published. The book will bring the three histories into dialogue with one another.