notes to coda 245
47 This last set of attributes figures prominently in theorizations of American domestic
melodrama. The expressive codes of this cycle of melodramas— summed up by Thomas
Elsaesser as “an intensified symbolisation of everyday action” (“Tales of Sound and
Fury,” 56)— made their way into Hong Kong cinema through the influence of Douglas
Sirk. Sirk’s films were well received by Hong Kong audiences, inspired at least two
credited remakes, and left a clear stylistic imprint on directors like Qin Jian. Thanks to
Sam Ho for sharing his knowledge of Sirk’s reception in the Hong Kong film world.
48 E. Yeh, “Pitfalls of Cross- Cultural Analysis,” 446–49. Zhang Zhen discusses the
“transcultural proliferation of melodrama,” giving special consideration to the
impact of the early film melodramas of D. W. Griffith on 1920s Shanghai cinema.
She writes: “If Griffith drew on the ambivalent legacy of the French Revolution and
Eu ropean Enlightenment to address postbellum American society’s sociocultural
upheavals in nation building and industrialization, the Shanghai filmmakers further
translated and adapted these Euro- American sources along with Chinese literary and
theatrical traditions in the contradiction- ridden context of the Chinese new culture
movement and Shanghai’s semicolonial modernity” (“Transplanting Melodrama,” 37).
49 Cai, Zhongguo jindai wenyi dianying yanjiu, 2.
50 Christine Gledhill writes: “Characteristically the melodramatic plot turns on an
initial, often deliberately engineered, misrecognition of the innocence of a central
protagonist. . . . Narrative is thus progressed through a struggle for clear moral iden-
tification of all protagonists and is finally resolved by public recognition of where
guilt and innocence really lie” (“The Melodramatic Field,” 30).
51 “Ge Lan de Riben zhuang.” The story of Madame Butterfly was also adapted in Hudie
furen, a Xinhua production of 1956 that starred Li Lihua as a Japa nese singer who
marries a Hong Kong businessman.
52 Rigoletto also ends with a woman’s suicidal sacrifice for her beloved.
53 Clément, Opera, 5.
54 Clément, Opera, 47. Clément discusses the dagger “that will fix Butterfly . . . to the
board of the white Occident” (ibid., 45), and that which kills Carmen, “a woman
who refuses masculine yokes and who must pay for it with her life” (ibid., 48).
55 As Paul Robinson writes, “while the operatic text tells a story of woman’s undoing,
the music tells just the opposite story: of her empowerment” (“It’s Not Over till the
Soprano Dies”). Building on this assertion, Carolyn Abbate sets the role of the singer
against that of the composer or librettist. It is the performer who endows music with
a tangible, phenomenal existence; therefore “there are potentially multiple musical
voices that inhabit a work” (Unsung Voices, x).
56 Cavarero, For More Than One Voice, 126.
Coda
1 For a discussion of Teddy Girls that places the film in dialogue with its historical
context, see Fu, “The 1960s.”
2 Siao sang in some of her films, not including Teddy Girls, but she never established a
career as a recording artist.
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