African American soprano Grace Bumbry sparked a controversy in West Germany when she became the first black musician to sing at the Bayreuth Festival Opera House in July 1961. This article demonstrates how race served two separate functions for the Bayreuth Opera Festival and its postwar audience. For opera director Wieland Wagner, hiring a black singer was part of a larger agenda to sever Bayreuth’s ties from its most recent and turbulent past. German audiences discussing this historical moment, however, expressed concern that protestors of this performance were preventing Germans from moving forward into a new, democratic, and racially accepting Germany.


Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.