Blackness in Opera
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (273.0 KB)
Download PDF (185.4 KB)
Foreword: Singing in the Dark
Download PDF (237.5 KB)
The present collection of essays attempts to identify and theorize the various ways in which the idea of blackness has worked as a practice—as a complex of representational strategies in the genre of opera. Taken as a single body of work, they do not present a unified theoretical voice, but like the practice of ...
Download PDF (187.0 KB)
When we decided to undertake the editing duties for this collection, it is fair to say that we did so with a combination of excitement and trepidation. Excitement, because we had all conducted research related to opera and blackness, and agreed that this was an area of compelling scholarly possibilities that ...
Introduction: Representing Blackness on the Operatic Stage
Download PDF (416.9 KB)
Despite notable scholarly contributions over the past few decades, the issue of race still presents significant hurdles for many musicologists. This may be due in part to issues raised by the theoretical approach Toni Morrison advanced in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992) ...
1. From Otello to Porgy: Blackness, Masculinity, and Morality in Opera
Download PDF (535.1 KB)
One of the most reliably predictable figures in the grand opera tradition is the male protagonist: the heroic tenor. Regardless of whether the final curtain finds him dying for his beliefs or saving the heroine from a fate worse than death, the lead tenor has traditionally set the standard for heroism and ...
2. Hearing the Other in The Masque of Blackness
Download PDF (589.4 KB)
On January 6, 1605, Queen Anne presented her husband, King James I of England (r. 1603–25), with ἀ e Masque of Blackness, a court entertainment of unusual scale and spectacle.1 She had commissioned dramatist Ben Jonson and designer Inigo Jones to collaborate on the project, and Alfonso Ferrabosco ...
3. Nationalism, Racial Difference, and "Egyptian" Meaning in Verdi's Aida
Download PDF (545.3 KB)
In a July 16, 1870, letter to Giuseppe Piroli, a good friend in Rome, Giuseppe Verdi writes, “I am busy. Guess! . . . Writing an opera for Cairo!!! Oof. I shall not go to stage it because I would be afraid of being mummified. . . . If anyone had told me two years ago, You will write for Cairo, I would have ...
4. Race, "Realism," and Fate in Frederick Delius's Koanga
Download PDF (596.9 KB)
On May 30, 1899, London concertgoers had the opportunity to witness Frederick Delius’s professional compositional debut. The performance, held at St. James Hall in Piccadilly, was notable for being entirely dedicated to his own works, a rare event for English composers of the day.1 The first half of the concert ...
5. Political Currents and Black Culture in Scott Joplin's Treemonisha
Download PDF (679.8 KB)
The life journey of Scott Joplin (1868–1917) has become an iconic part of black history, for it is representative of many African Americans of the post– Civil War generation. Freed from oppressive fears of slavery and hoping for a bright new future, African Americans, including Joplin, pursued education ambitiously ...
6. Clarence Cameron White's Ouanga! in the World of the Harlem Renaissance
Download PDF (708.5 KB)
American literature, music, and popular culture of the 1920s are replete with works reflecting the U.S. fascination with the nation of Haiti. In this spirit, Clarence Cameron White (1880–1960), violinist and composer, and John Frederick Matheus (1887–1983), writer and literary scholar, produced the opera ...
7. New Paradigms in William Grant Still's Blue Steel
Download PDF (545.5 KB)
“My love has always been opera—the theater. This love of operatic music, stimulated in my early youth by listening to operatic records, was the thing that first aroused the desire to compose. All my other work has been a means to this end.”1 So wrote William Grant Still in 1949. By this time he had ...
8. Performers in Catfish Row: Porgy and Bess as Collaboration
Download PDF (580.7 KB)
In the decades-long debate over Porgy and Bess, those offended by its depiction of African Americans have occasionally characterized the opera as a crime against the race. Some have called the work itself harmful, such as playwright Lorraine Hansberry, who noted that African Americans have “had ...
9. Searching for "Authenticity" in Paul Bowles's Denmark Vesey
Download PDF (674.4 KB)
In January 1938, Juanita Hall conducted the Negro Melody Singers in an unstaged performance of the first act of Denmark Vesey for the New York Composers’ Forum. The performance, featuring music by Paul Bowles set to a libretto by Charles Henri Ford, provoked thoughtful and pointed questions ...
10. The Politics of Color in Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones
Download PDF (548.9 KB)
I first met “Miss Jones” (Carmen Jones, that is), a few years ago when I was searching for a suitable video of Bizet’s Carmen for my opera history class, and it immediately struck me as a work that begged to be examined through the lens of feminist and cultural theory. Susan McClary, Catherine Clément, and ...
11, Performing Race in Ernst Krenek's Jonny spielt auf
Download PDF (608.4 KB)
Though by far his most well-known work, Ernst Krenek had an ambiguous relationship toward his fourth opera, Jonny spielt auf, or “Jonny Strikes Up” (1927). This work is an ambitious combination of European modernism, American popular music, and what Krenek took to be jazz. Its plot pits a central ...
12. Il Rodolfo Nero, or The Masque of Blackness
Download PDF (630.7 KB)
In the fall of 1960, I made my European operatic debut at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan, Italy, singing the role of Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini’s perennial favorite, La Bohème. One of the headlines in the news the following day proclaimed, “Il Rodolfo nero ha superato l’esame!” In translation: “The black ...
Download PDF (386.3 KB)
Download PDF (403.8 KB)
Download PDF (227.5 KB)
Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2012