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Black OperaHistory, Power, Engagement$
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Naomi André

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041921

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041921.001.0001

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Engaged Opera

Engaged Opera

(p.1) 1 Engaged Opera
Black Opera

Naomi André

University of Illinois Press

This chapter introduces two case studies of “Black Otellos” and situates the author’s voice in this project. This chapter outlines the historical background of race in the United States and South Africa around opera. The constructions of “downstaging black voices” and a “black shadow culture” in opera are introduced. Blackface, colorblind, and true-to-color casting decisions in opera are examined. The critical roles of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price in shaping a black presence in opera are discussed. Three rubrics for listening and analyzing opera across the chapters are presented: Who is in the story? Who speaks? and Who is in the audience doing the interpreting?

Keywords:   engaged opera, black Otellos, blackface, colorblind casting, true-to-color casting, downstaging black voices, shadow culture in opera, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price

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