Cover for GUY: Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan. Click for larger image

Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan

Awards and Recognition:

Recipient of an ASCAP Deems Taylor award for ethnomusicology (2006). A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2006.

How the politics of culture and censorship shaped Peking opera's unique history in Taiwan

Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan tells the peculiar story of an art caught in a sea of ideological ebbs and flows. Nancy Guy demonstrates the potential significance of the political environment for an art form's development, ranging from determining the smallest performative details (such as how a melody can or cannot be composed) to whether a tradition ultimately thrives or withers away.

When Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government and military retreated to Taiwan in 1949, they brought along numerous Peking opera performers. Expecting that this symbolically important art would strengthen regime legitimacy and authority, they generously supported Peking opera's perpetuation in exile. Valuing mainland Chinese culture above Taiwanese culture, the Nationalists generously supported Peking opera to the virtual exclusion of local performing traditions, despite their wider popularity. Later, as Taiwan turned toward democracy, the island's own "indigenous" products became more highly valued and Peking opera found itself on a tenuous footing. Finally, in 1995, all of its opera troupes and schools (formerly supported by the Ministry of Defense) were dismantled.

"Although ethnomusicologists often debate the concept of 'preservation studies,' this analysis of the one fo the world's most important theatrical genres is a noble testament to the recent plight of Peking opera in Taiwan. . . . Essential."--Choice "Inherently enlightening and informative, Guys' book offers its readers an inspired understanding of how politics and the arts collide in the Republic of China. . . . Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan is not merely a scholarly account from an outsider's perspective, but an impassioned thesis from someone who grew out of the tradition and cared deeply about its future. Guy's book is not only a must read for serious students of opera, but a fundamental resource for those interested in the ongoing art-versus-politics debate."--Comparative Drama

Publication of this book has been supported by Hsio-De Foundation, Taiwan.

Nancy Guy is a professor of music at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of The Magic of Beverly Sills.

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