Reimagining China in Interwar German Opera: Eugen d’Albert’s Mister Wu and Ernst Toch’s Der Fächer
Source TitleMusical Entanglements between Germany and East Asia: Transnational Affinity in the 20th and 21st Centuries
University of Melbourne Author/sGabriel, John
AffiliationMelbourne Conservatorium of Music
CitationsGabriel, J. (2021). Reimagining China in Interwar German Opera: Eugen d’Albert’s Mister Wu and Ernst Toch’s Der Fächer. Cho, J (Ed.). Musical Entanglements between Germany and East Asia: Transnational Affinity in the 20th and 21st Centuries, (1), pp.125-149. Palgrave Macmillan.
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This chapter examines how Germany and China’s changed relationship after World War I and Germany’s forced decolonization affected representations of China in German opera through analysis of two operas. The first, Eugen d’Albert and M. Karlev’s Mister Wu (1930–1932), reconfigured the tropes of the Yellow Peril, reflecting the social upheavals experienced by Germany after the war and Germany’s new relationship with its former colonies. The second, Ernst Toch and Ferdinand Lion’s Der Fächer (The Fan, 1927–1930), transported a Chinese fairy tale to present-day Shanghai. Modern China becomes an allegorical site whose similarities to Germany are a means of exploring Germany’s new postwar identity. However, this portrayal also subtly positioned Germany in a dominant role, anticipating post-World War II neocolonialism.
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