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Opera in the Jazz AgeCultural Politics in 1920s Britain$
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Alexandra Wilson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190912666

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190912666.001.0001

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(p.182) Chapter 7 Identities
Opera in the Jazz Age

Alexandra Wilson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how discourses of national identity played into the 1920s opera debate and connected to discussions about cultural categorisation. Focusing in detail upon two magazines devoted explicitly to opera and associated with opera companies (Opera and MILO), it demonstrates the ways in which operatic propaganda played into contemporary identity politics. The chapter analyses the ways in which connections were drawn between opera and sport as a means of popularising opera, masculinising it, and rendering it middlebrow. It also considers connections that were drawn between opera, good health, and model citizenship, focusing in particular on endeavours designed to foster an interest in opera among school children. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Thomas Beecham’s Imperial League of Opera and the ways in which it attempted to masculinise opera by employing imperialist, militaristic rhetoric.

Keywords:   opera, Britain, 1920s, highbrow, middlebrow, sport, education, imperialism, nationalism, masculinity

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