Awards: Irving Lowens Award, Society for American Music (SAM), 2019Music in American Culture Award, American Musicological Society (AMS), 2018Certificate of Merit for Best Historical Research in Recorded Country, Folk, Roots, or World Music, Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), 2018Outstanding Achievement in Humanities and Cultural Studies: Media, Visual, and Performance Studies, Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS), 2019 The Chinatown opera house provided Chinese immigrants with an essential source of entertainment during the pre "World War II era. But its stories of loyalty, obligation, passion, and duty also attracted diverse patrons into Chinese American communities Drawing on a wealth of new Chinese- and English-language research, Nancy Yunhwa Rao tells the story of iconic theater companies and the networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures. Rao unmasks a backstage world of performers, performance, and repertoire and sets readers in the spellbound audiences beyond the footlights. But she also braids a captivating and complex history from elements outside the opera house walls: the impact of government immigration policy; how a theater influenced a Chinatown's sense of cultural self; the dissemination of Chinese opera music via recording and print materials; and the role of Chinese American business in sustaining theatrical institutions. The result is a work that strips the veneer of exoticism from Chinese opera, placing it firmly within the bounds of American music and a profoundly American experience.
"Chinatown Opera Theater in North America is a treasure trove that celebrates the transnational development of Cantonese Opera in North America in the 1920s." --Studies in Theatre and Performance
"Through her in-depth archival research and adept linguistic and musicological skills, [Rao] brings to light the importance of Chinese immigrant music making. . . . A significant contribution to our understanding of the history of music making, particularly in the United States."--Theatre Survey
"Achieves a sharpness of focus and depth of detail that takes our understanding of the history of Cantonese opera in North America to a new level . . . Chinatown Opera Theater in North America is an excellent piece of historical scholarship, and a unique and original contribution to our knowledge of Chinese performing arts in the Americas."--Ethnomusicology Forum
"Chinatown Theater in North America represents a significant contribution in theater scholarship. It is a book that is sure to provoke further discussion among all those who have an interest either in Chinese opera or musicology or American history or cultural studies. There is much to impress and enjoy in this interestingly illustrated book, and it is a welcome study of the subject."--Studies in Theatre and Performance
"Rao's book not only complements Wing Chung Ng's study of the rise of Cantonese Opera and Bell Yung's analysis of its creative process, but also constitutes a significant contribution to Asian-American Studies, Chinese Studies, and American music history."--China Review International
"Rao's book is an important text that should be included in musicology or ethnomusicology courses, not only for the historical and cultural reference that it brings to bear, but also for how the genre of Cantonese opera improves our understanding of the world today." --American Music Review