Unbuckling the German belt : the history of opera audiences in San Antonio
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Opera is unique among forms of Western classical music and performing arts in that it has always been a popular and accessible form of “cultured” entertainment. As a city with one of the longest and richest histories of opera performance in Texas, San Antonio provides a significant opportunity to survey the relationship between this popular art form and discourses of identity, power, and difference across ethnic, class, and gender divisions. This paper has two aims. First, it investigates the history of opera reception in San Antonio in order to examine changes in the traditional values of its citizens over the past century, focusing on the influence of ethnic identity among German immigrants. Then, it looks at the scholarship on cultural performance in various contemporary situations analogous to that of San Antonio and constructs five key processes of identification that show how individuals contextualize themselves in shared histories and identities through their participation in cultural performance of opera.