By Naomi Andre, Karen M. Bryan, Eric Saylor, Guthrie Ramsey

ISBN-10: 0252036786

ISBN-13: 9780252036781

Blackness in Opera significantly examines the intersections of race and track within the multifaceted style of opera. a various cross-section of students areas famous operas (Porgy and Bess, Aida, Treemonisha) along lesser-known works resembling Frederick Delius's Koanga, William provide Still's Blue Steel, and Clarence Cameron White's Ouanga! to bare a brand new old context for re-imagining race and blackness in opera. the amount brings a wide-ranging, theoretically knowledgeable, interdisciplinary method of questions on how blackness has been represented in those operas, matters surrounding characterization of blacks, interpretation of racialized roles by means of blacks and whites, controversies over race within the theatre and using blackface, and extensions of blackness alongside the spectrum from grand opera to musical theatre and movie. as well as essays by way of students, the booklet additionally positive factors reflections through popular American tenor George Shirley.
 
Contributors are Naomi André, Melinda Boyd, Gwynne Kuhner Brown, Karen M. Bryan, Melissa J. de Graaf, Christopher R. Gauthier, Jennifer McFarlane-Harris, Gayle Murchison, Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr., Eric Saylor, Sarah Schmalenberger, Ann Sears, George Shirley, and Jonathan O. Wipplinger.


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Porgy and Bess is an African American story: all of the principal characters and large chorus are black, and the story revolves around their lives. Its position on the opera stage was not initially clear to critics of either opera or musical theater; issues surrounding the jazz-influenced score, the use of a nearly all-black cast, and a story about poverty among southern blacks in the United States were new concepts for both genres. Gershwin’s own personal and professional background complicated the situation even further: born in Brooklyn to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, Gershwin was a leader in the popular song tradition of Tin Pan Alley as well as in the emerging styles of jazz.

Despite their intentions to become respectable members of their communities, their actions are misunderstood and acceptance eludes them. As they stand too low on the social ladder, their attempts to connect even with those closest to them fail. Ultimately, both Wozzeck and Peter Grimes end up being punished for their actions, though that punishment—suicide—is self-imposed. Georg Büchner’s unfinished nineteenth-century play Woyzeck was based on a real historical event that became the first court case where the insanity defense was used (though unsuccessfully).

Despite our sympathy, both men pay for their actions. Though both operas’ societies are operating with a broken moral compass, each antihero is ultimately held responsible for his deeds. Gershwin’s Porgy is also set up for a tragic finale. We see it in the chorus members’ faces when they try to avoid telling him that Bess has run off to New York with Sportin’ Life. Yet instead of singing the blues, Porgy leads the chorus in a rousing finale. ’” In this stirring final scene, the audience is led to believe that Porgy really is on his way to find Bess and that the Lawd is going to take his han’ and lead him there.

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Blackness in Opera by Naomi Andre, Karen M. Bryan, Eric Saylor, Guthrie Ramsey


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