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Cultural appropriation and cultural purity

“Something about the story and the characters granted me a sense of freedom to write an American opera, an opera that is rooted in our peculiarly skewed political image of ourselves, an opera that aims to be both theatrically entertaining and psychologically acute.” – Adams

“The way culture works…is never pure — everything is pollination all the time. that is the energy of our period, which is by definition multicultural and multileveled…Nixon in China had ‘no overt Chinese references in it musically, but sets up a world which you regard as Chinese…Instead of using a kind of musical orientalism, it’s quite the opposite: what is the shared world here? one of the most important things about John’s music is that it’s not a colonialist viewpoint tapping into someone else’s music. It presents the texture of the world we are actually sharing, in which this interpenetration of influence and aspiration from all sides is creating something that is itself a new culture” – Sellers

“I think that one has to understand both cultures … When I was composing I didn’t really think about what was Chinese or what was western,” he says. “For me the idea of fusion has to come from the bottom up not from the surface.” – Sheng

Reading the above, do you agree that culture is never really pure? Is opera, as an example of art, something that by its nature is always something new and not a recreation or reinterpretation or falsification? Is it fair to judge opera as failing to accurately recreate or portray any culture?


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