Join CRE2 for a multi-year exploration of race and opera. This initiative began in spring 2021 with The Race and Opera Atelier, featuring a virtual event open to the public. Co–presenters Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Washington University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity presented “Belonging in Opera: Learning from Our Past, Engaging with Our Future,” a two-night symposium led by Dr. Naomi André. that explored the history of Black composers and the current and future landscape of Black creativity in opera and adjacent spaces.

Belonging in Opera: Learning from Our Past, Engaging with Our Future

Ateliers are makers studios conceived with a goal of designing something new. CRE2 Ateliers are focused, non-credit bearing spaces designed to make new ideas, craft new meanings, and unpack and repurpose existing frameworks.

Naomi André is Professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She received her B.A. from Barnard College and M.A. and Ph.D. (Music: Musicology) from Harvard University. Her research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race in the US, Europe, and South Africa. Her publications include topics on Italian opera, Schoenberg, women composers, and teaching opera in prisons. Her book, Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (University of Illinois Press, 2018) won the Lowens Book Award from the Society for American Music and Judy Tsou Critical Race Studies Award from the American Musicological Society. Her earlier books include Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (2006) and Blackness in Opera (2012, co-edited collection). She has edited and contributed to clusters of articles in African Studies and the Journal of the Society for American Music. Currently she is a co-editor for the essay collection African Performance Arts and Political Acts (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming in 2022). She is the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Seattle Opera and a founding member of the Black Opera Research Network (BORN).

Joining Dr. André for this series will be composers Anthony Davis and Damien Sneed; artists Nicole Cabell (soprano), Briana Hunter (mezzo-soprano), Will Liverman (baritone), and Morris Robinson (bass); leaders Afton Battle (General Director, Fort Worth Opera), Quodesia “Quo” Johnson (Education and Company Culture Manager, The Dallas Opera), and Marcia Sells (Chief Diversity Officer, the Metropolitan Opera); and scholars Todd Decker (Washington University), Lauren Eldridge Stewart (Washington University), Maya Gibson (University of Missouri), Kori Hill (University of North Carolina), Marcía Porter (Florida State University), and Louise Toppin (University of Michigan).

Part 1: April 6, 2021
Part 2: April 13, 2021

Race and Opera Syllabus:

Todd Decker:

Todd Decker, Show Boat: Performing Race in an American Musical (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Todd Decker, Who Should Sing “Ol’ Man River”?: The Lives of an American Song (Oxford University Press, 2015)

Angela C. Pao, No Safe Spaces: Re-casting Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality in American Theatre (University of Michigan Press, 2010)

Allen Woll, Black Musical Theatre: From Coontown to Dreamgirls (Louisiana State University Press, 1989)

Maya Gibson:

Verna Arvey, In One Lifetime (University of Arkansas Press, 1984)

Amanda Leonora Green-Turner, William Grant Still’s Highway 1, U.S.A.: A Character Analysis of Mary; Ophelia Lieder; and Songs of the African Diaspora, DMA Dissertation, at the University of Michigan, 2020

Gayle Murchison, “Dean of Afro-American Composers” or “Harlem Renaissance Man: The New Negro and the Musical Poetics of William Grant Still” in William Grant Still: A Study in Contradictions, edited by Catherine Parsons Smith (University of California Press, 2000)

Gayle Murchison, “Renaissance Man” in Opera News, February 2021, Vol 85, No. 8, pp. 30-33

Beverly Soll, I Dream a World: The Operas of William Grant Still (University of Arkansas Press, 2005)

William Grant Still’s Highway One, USA [1963] (Albany Records, USA, 2005). Cast includes Louise Toppin, Robert Honeysucker, Ray M. Wade, Jr. and Pamela Dillard; Vocal Essence and the St. Olaf Orchestra conducted by Philip Brunelle.

Kori Hill and Lauren Eldridge Stewart:

Karen M. Bryan, “Clarence Cameron White’s Ouanga! in the World of the Harlem Renaissance” in Blackness in Opera (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012), 115–141​

Jascha Heifetz, It Ain’t Necessarily So: Legendary Classic and Jazz Studio Takes (Deutsche Grammaphon B0015RBHQI, 2006) ​

Michael Largey, “Ouanga!: An African-American Opera About Haiti,” Lenox Avenue: A Journal of Interarts Inquiry, 2 (1996): 35–54​

Michael Largey, “Visions of Vodou in African American Operas About Haiti: Ouanga and Troubled Island” in Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2006), pp. 147–185 ​

Alain Locke, ed. The New Negro: Voices from the Harlem Renaissance (Touchstone, c. 1925, 1999) 

John Frederick Matheus, “Ouanga: My Venture in Libretto Creation” CLA Journal 15(4)June1972: 428–440 ​

Marie Vieux–Chauvet, Dance on the Volcano (Brooklyn, NY: Archipelago Books, c. 1957, 2004)​

Clarence Cameron White, “A Musical Pilgrimage to Haiti, the Island of Beauty, Mystery, and Rhythm” The Etude, 1929: 505–506 ​

Clarence Cameron White & John F. Matheus, Ouanga: A Haitian Opera in Three Acts (New York, NY: S. Fox Publishing, c. 1932, 1955) ​

Quodesia Johnson:

Taking the Stage with Kristian and Quo presents opportunities to dig deep and explore collective solutions through meaningful conversations about topics like inclusion, the arts, education, equity, diversity, opera, and more. https://dallasopera.org/tdo_network_show/taking-the-stage/

Black Administrators of Opera: A group that formed in response to the pressing need to elevate the voices of Black administrators in the international dialogue on race and privilege currently unfolding in classical music. https://blackadmofopera.medium.com/

Marcia Porter:

http://africandiasporamusicproject.org​

Noël DaCosta, Two Songs for Julie Ju, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2JRd4ePuNc ​

Bill Glovin, Music of the Spheres: The Sound of Music, to Student – Composer Nkeiruka Okoye, Mixes Jazz, Pop, Gospel, African, and Classical motifs” , Rutgers Magazine, 1997.​

https://www.nkeiruokoye.com​

Nkeiru Okoye, “Black Bottom” Detroit Symphony Orchestra, March 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11xUjzA1Ljc&t=730s

Marcia Sells:

https://www.metopera.org/discover/archives/black-voices-at-the-met/

The MSM Cultural Inclusion Initiative – Manhattan School of Music (msmnyc.edu)

https://www.yellowface.org/

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt

The Origin of Others, by Toni Morrison

Louise Toppin:

5 Anthologies of songs by Adolphus Hailstork; Videmus African American Music Series, Louise Toppin, editor; 

Classical Vocal Reprint, published Summer, 2020https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=Hailstork

   Vol I        Deux Chansons for soprano, clarinet and piano

   Vol. II.     Songs for Soprano and Harp

   Vol III.    Chamber Music:  Songs for Soprano and Strings

   Vol IV.    Art Songs with Sacred Texts for High Voice

   Vol V.     Art Songs  (for publication Summer 2021)

Recordings of the Songs of Adolphus Hailstork for soprano,Videmus/ Albany Records

CD1    Songs of Love and Justice  (for release summer 2021)

Louise Toppin, soprano, John O’Brien, piano; Josh Marzan, piano, Lydia Cleaver, harp; Michelle Doyle Tschirhart, clarinet; John Madison, viola; Rick Robinson; double bass; Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Julius Williams, conductor

CD2 Summer.Life.Song.  (for release January 2022)

Louise Toppin, soprano, John O’Brien, piano; Lydia Cleaver, harp; Lisa Raschiatore, clarinet, Velda Kelly, violin, Monica Jackson, violin; John Madison, viola; Damon Coleman, cello