Thursday, July 31, 2008 Robert McFerrin, Sr. Sang in William Grant Still's "Troubled Island"

[Robert McFerrin, Sr. (1921-2006), photo at]
“Robert McFerrin Sr., was an African-American baritone opera and concert singer who became the first black male to appear in an opera at the Metropolitan Opera house in New York City, his debut following by less than three weeks the well-publicized breaking of the color barrier by contralto Marian Anderson.” “He is best remembered as the father of singer and conductor Bobby McFerrin, with whom he sometimes performed.”

“McFerrin’s New York career began in 1949 with a small part in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars. His performance attracted the attention of Boris Goldovsky, who gave him a scholarship to study at the Tanglewood Opera Theatre outside of Boston. There, in 1949, he made his operatic debut in Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto. He then joined Goldovsky’s touring company, where he added roles in Charles Gounod’s Faust and Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride. In addition, he sang with the National Negro Opera company in Verdi’s Aida and at the New York City Center Opera Company in the world premiere of William Grant Still’s Troubled Island. Finally, he returned to Broadway for a revival of Green Pastures in 1951 and the following year for some performances in My Darlin’ Aida, an updated version of the Verdi opera set in Memphis in 1861.” Full Post [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at]

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