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Blackness in Opera Workshop: Compositori ed interpreti di coloro nell'opera lirica tra America ed Europa

  • Sapienza Universitá di Roma Piazzale Aldo Moro Roma, Lazio, 00185 Italy (map)

Blackness as a concept of constructed racial otherness is readily recognized as a theme in several operas from the standard operatic repertoire: Verdi’s Aida, Otello,  Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Rossini’s Italiana in Algieri, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. However the influence of Blackness resonates throughout the operatic canon in deeper ways. The exchange of people, ideas, and economies between the African and European continents and across the proximate coastlines stretch back to the beginning of recorded history. Similarly, the escalation of European exploitation of Africa coincided with an increase in wealth on the European continent that allowed opera to flourish as an entertainment for the wealthy beginning in the 16th  Century. In fact, the dates of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1510-1910 correlate with the most influential creations of the operatic cannon and the persistent development of racialized ideologies which would later prevent Black artists from singing opera even after they had trained and been found vocally proficient. This relationship has rarely received scholarly attention commensurate with its impact. Later triumphs by Black singers on the international operatic stage, such as Marian Anderson at the Metropolitan Opera House (1955), Mattiwilda Dobbs at La Scala (1958), Grace Bumbry at Bayreuth (1961) are all the more significant and the struggles to realize a fully integrated opera-going experience all the more formidable when viewed within this context. This presentation will explore the complicated sites of Blackness in Opera and suggest holistic pathways  forward. 

Earlier Event: June 26
Festival Baltimore
Later Event: July 21
Salzburger Kammermusik Konzerte