African Performance Arts and Political Actspresents innovative formulations for how African performance and the arts shape the narratives of cultural history and politics. This collection, edited by Naomi André, Yolanda Covington-Ward, and Jendele Hungbo, engages with a breadth of African countries and art forms, bringing together speech, hip hop, religious healing and gesture, theater and social justice, opera, radio announcements, protest songs, and migrant workers’ dances. The spaces include village communities, city landscapes, prisons, urban hostels, Township theaters, opera houses, and broadcasts through the airwaves on television and radio as well as in cyberspace. Essays focus on case studies from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.
From classic films like Carmen Jones to contemporary works like The Diary of Sally Hemings and U-Carmen eKhayelitsa, American and South African artists and composers have used opera to reclaim black people's place in history. Naomi André draws on the experiences of performers and audiences to explore this music's resonance with today's listeners. Interacting with creators and performers, as well as with the works themselves, André reveals how black opera unearths suppressed truths. These truths provoke complex, if uncomfortable, reconsideration of racial, gender, sexual, and other oppressive ideologies. Opera, in turn, operates as a cultural and political force that employs an immense, transformative power to represent or even liberate. Viewing opera as a fertile site for critical inquiry, political activism, and social change, Black Opera lays the foundation for innovative new approaches to applied scholarship.
Blackness in Opera
Edited by Naomi André, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor University of Illinois Press, 2012 Library of Congress ML1700.B53 2012 | Dewey Decimal 782.108996
Blackness in Opera critically examines the intersections of race and music in the multifaceted genre of opera. A diverse cross-section of scholars places well-known operas (Porgy and Bess, Aida, Treemonisha) alongside lesser-known works such as Frederick Delius's Koanga, William Grant Still's Blue Steel, and Clarence Cameron White's Ouanga! to reveal a new historical context for re-imagining race and blackness in opera. The volume brings a wide-ranging, theoretically informed, interdisciplinary approach to questions about how blackness has been represented in these operas, issues surrounding characterization of blacks, interpretation of racialized roles by blacks and whites, controversies over race in the theatre and the use of blackface, and extensions of blackness along the spectrum from grand opera to musical theatre and film. In addition to essays by scholars, the book also features reflections by renowned 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.