Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dominique-René de Lerma: Operas By Black Composers

Antonio de Assis Republicano (1897-1960)

Dominique-René de Lerma:

This is extracted from one of several references in progress, designed to stimulate and facilitate research and education.
The works listed here are extended dramas with music by an identified single composer (exceptions noted) but not in the cases of inserted arias by a second figure, but do not presently include Singspiele and ballad operas (whose modern-day counterparts are termed "musicals").
The listing below cites the year of composition, rarely that of a first production.  It demonstrates the particular urge of the Black composer to create an extended musical work for the theater, too often without any assurance the time and energy expended -- not to mention the financial backing and other necessities not purely musical in nature -- will result in even one performance.
Of those most recently contacted (intentionally avoiding opera composers and performers) a few responmnded to questions regarding operas to which they had even only partly exposed in which they were interested, as well as works they had not heard or seen, but about which they were particularly curious.
Maria Corley expressed an interest in Richard Thompson's The mask in the mirror, and was familiar with Anthony Davis' X: The life and times of Malcolm X, both from the CD recording and  from having performed excepts at the Africabn the American Art Song Conference, convened by Darryl Taylor in ==.  Also at that conference she was attracted to Leslie Burrs' Yanqui, and Davis'  Amistad.
Sergio Mims regrets that Scott Joplin's A guest of honor appears not to be extant and indicated an interest in William Grant Still's Highway One U.S.A. and in the operas of Saint-Georges: Ernestine, L'amant anonyme, La fille garçon, Aline et Dupre, and Guillaume tout coeur ou les amis du village.  There is some controversy regarding the authenticity of some operas attributed to Saint-Georges, which we hope soon to address.
The opportunity to attend a recent production of one of these operas is, not surprisingly, rare: Highway One U.S.A. was produced in New York in ==, attended by James Levine.  Troubled island (William Grant Still) was staged in =- by the Southshore Opera Company in Chicago, but with piano, thus lacking the distinctive orchestral colors of the composer.    The New York City Opera (which gave  Troubled island its première in 19==) produced the formal première of X, with Ben Holt as Malcolm; he died before the CD recording was issued in ==, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago staged his Amistad.  .  Leslie Adams' Blake received several pre-production fanfares but the performance did not take place.  T.J. Anderson's Soldier boy, soldier was staged in Indiana in ==.  Dream lovers (Coleridge-Taylor) was given a concert performance at the 1982 Peabody-Morgan Symposium on Black Musical Theater, where the registrants also heard all of the extant music from Ernestine (Sasint-Georges).  In 1972, Atlanta gave Joplin's Treemonisha its first performance, so successful that T. J. Anderson's version (heard on PBS) was then taken over by Gunther Schuller for Houston, tour, and a VHS video.
One would have had to be at Milan's Teatro alla Scala to see the première of Il Gurandy by Gomes, although Plácido Domingo championed a CD in Bonn.  Puerto Ricans were able to attend Macias (Gutierrez) in its oremi`weere. 
Jubilee (Kay) was premiered by Opera South in ==, which company was responsible for the televised Bayou legend of Still.  Oba koso (Ladipo) toured the East Coast in ==, and also issued an LP of the work.  Euba's
In a like manner, there have been local one-night productions of other works -- for example, White's Ouanga in South Bend -- about which others rarely were alerted.
Adams, H. Leslie, 1932-
Blake (1986)
Adderley, Cannonball, 1928-1975
Big man (1975)
Akinwole, Obataiye B., fl. 1975
The road to freedom
Akpabot, Samuel. 1932-2000
Jaja of Opobo (1972)
Allen, Gilbert, 1918-ca. 1960
Steal away
Anderson, T. J., 1928-
Soldier boy, soldier (1979)
The shell fairy (1977)
Assis Republicano, Antonio de, 1897-1960
O bandeirante (1925)
A vida de Jesús (1937)
As Amazonas
O ermitão da gloria
Baker, David N., 1931-
Malcolm X (unfinished)
Banfield, William C.,  1961-
Fisherman's dock
Barbour, J. Bernie, 1881-1936
Oberlin maids (1918)
Bell, Charles Henderson, 1933-
Big-time selfish
The golden spook (1969)
The pied piper
The zoo
Billups, Kenneth, 1918-1985
Afro-American potpourri (1969)
All aboard S. S. Jack and Jill
Full steam ahead     
Three versions of the virgin birth
Bledsoe, Jules, 1898-1943
Bondage (1936)
Boatner, Edward, 1898-1981
Julie sees her
Bonds, Margaret, 1913-1972
Romey and Julie      
Shakespeare in Harlem
Brindis de Salas, Claudio José, 1800-1872
Las zongojas matrimoniales
Brown, J. Harold, 1902-
King Solomon (1951)
Burrs, Leslie Savoy, 1952-
A Black opera (1979)
Vanqui  (2005)
Buthelezi, Alexius, 1927-
Cervantes, Ignácio, 1847-1905
¡Maledetto! (1895)
El submarine Peral
Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel, 1875-1911
Dream lovers (1898)
Thelma (1908)
Cunningham, Arthur, 1928-1997
His natural grace (1969)
House by the sea (1966)
Lovey lovey (1968)
Ostrich feathers (1964)
Shango (1969)
Violetta (1963)
DaCosta, Noel, 1929-2002
A cocktail sip (1958)
Baba's juju (1974)
The singing tortoise (1971)
Davis, Anthony, 1951-
Tanya (1992)
Under the double moon (1898)
X: The life and times of Malcolm X (1986)
Davis, Gussie Lord, 1864-1899
King Herod (1892)
Dédé, Edmond, 1827-1903
Après le miel (1880)
Chick-king-fo (1878)
L'abile de la chouette
L'anneau du diable
L'antropohage (1880)
Le grillon du foyer
Le noye
Le sultan d'Ispahan
Les étudiants borderlais
Une aventure de Telemanque
Dédé, Eugène Arcade, 1867- 1919
Deux jours (1909)
La manolita (1909)
Oncle et neveu
DuBois, Shirley Graham, 1906-1977
Little Black Sambo (1937)
Tom tom (1932)
Duncan, John, 1913-1975
Gideon and Eliza (1972)
The hellish banditi
Edwards, Leo D., 1937-
Harriet Tubman
El Dabh, Halim, 1921-
Opera flies (1971)
Ptah-mose and the magic spell (1973)
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974
Beggar's holiday (1947)
Boola (unfinished)          
Chocolate kiddies (1925)
Jump for joy (1941)
Queenie Pie
Euba, Akin
Fax, Mark, 1911-1974
A Christmas miracle (1956)
Merry-go-round (1969)
Till victory is won (1966)
Fiberesima, Adam, 1926-
Orukoro (1968)
Opu-jaja (1973)
Fischer, William Samuel, 1935-
Jack Jack (1968)
Jesse (1966)
Simone Wilde
Fox, James Ingram, 1906-2005
Don Fodio, unhappy warrior
Freeman, Harry Lawrence, 1869-1954
An African kraal (1903)
An African romance (1927)
Athalia (1916)
Leah Kleschna (1931)
The flapper (1929)
The martyr (1893)
The octoroon (1904)
The plantation (1915)
The prophecy (1911)
The tryst (1909)
Uzziah (1934)
Vendetta (1923)
Voodoo (1914)
Zuluki (1898; original title Nada)
Zululand (1947)
Furman, James, 1937-1989
It's 11:59
Gomes, Antônio Carlos, 1836-1896
A noite do castelo (1861)
Cantico dos canticos
Celeste (unfinished)
Condor (1891)
Il Guarany (1870)
Joana de Flandres (1863)
La fosca (1873)
Lo schiavo (1889)
Moema (unfinished)
Nella luna (1868)
Ninon de Lenclos (unfinished)
Salvador Rosa (1874)
Se sa minga (1868)
Gutiérrez y Espinosa, Felipe, 1825-1899
El amor de un pescador (1857)
El bearnés (?)
Guarionez (1856)
La palma del Cacique (1856)
Macías (1871)
Hailstork, Adolphus
Hernández, Julio Alberto, 1909-1999
La ilusión que pasa
Hill, Andre, 1937-
The golden spook (1970)
Horton, Asadata Dafora, 1890-1965
Africa (1944)
Kykuntor (1934)
Zunguru (1940)
Johnson, J. Rosamond, 1873-1954
Tolosa, or the Royal document (1900)
Joplin, Scott, 1868-1917
A guest of honor (1903)
If (unfinished)
Treemonisha (1907)
Kay, Ulysses, 1917-1995
Jubilee (1976)
The boor (1955)
The Capitoline Venus (1969)
The juggler of Our Lady (1956)
King, Betty Jackson, 1928-1994
Saul of Taurus
Ladipo, Duro, 1931-1978
Be'  ti ò se
Oba koso (1968)
Oba moro
Oba waja
Lambert, Lucien Charles, 1828-1878
Brocéliande (1892)
La flamenca (1899)
La marseillaise (1900)
La penticosa (1908)
Sire Olof
Lambert, Lucien Léon Guillaume, 1858-1945
Le spahi (1897)
Lee, William J. E., 1928-
Baby sweets
One mile east
The depot (1972)
The quartet
León, Tania, 1943-
Carmencita (1978)
Scourge of hyacinths(2001)
Levister, Alonzo, 1925-
New faces of 1968
Slave song (1972, co-composed with Oscar Brown, Jr.)
The happy hypocrite
Lewis, John, 1920-2001
Mahalia 1978)
Lovingood, Penman, 1895-1993
Evangeline and Gabriel
Menelik (1964)
Mbabi-Katana, Solomon, fl. 1975
The marriage of Nyakata (1965)
McLin, Lena Johnson, 1929-
Budd Biliken
Jack and the bean
Moffat, Richard Cullen, 1927-1982
Montero, José Angel, 1839-1881
Moore, Dorothy Rudd, 1940-
Frederick Douglass (1985)
Msomi, Welcome, 1943-
Nunes Garcia, José Mauricio, 1787-1830
Zemira (1803)
Le due gemelle
Nzewi, Emeka Meki, 1938-
Ogbunigwe (1968)
The lost finger (1970)
A drop of honey (1972
Mystery is illusion (1974)
The ordeal for regeneration (1980)
Ogunde, Hubert, 1916-1990
Yoruba rossee
Ogunmola, Kola, 1925-1973
Adììtú Olódumarè
Aìtète molé
Ajé kií gbé
Asoorè má sikà
Baba ni baba njè
Bi kàa kúure kò ni súnunre
Eéfin niwà
Eni a bíire
Enin olórun là
Eri okàn
Erù yatò fòmo
Hannah's trial
Hell on earth
Ifé Owó
Ijáfará léwu
Imú bori jé
Ipin a i sè
N'Ólóun ò pani obà kan kó le pani
Ofo ágbá
Ogbón ju agbára
Oja okùkùn
Ojú laari
Ológbón éwé
Olórum ló mola
Onún ojú wá lojúú ri
Orisa fé m pé méji
Reign of the mighty
Sùúru làbgá
The palm wine drinkard
Ogunyemi, Wale, 1939-
Pena Morell, Esteban, 1894-1939
Embrujo antellano (1928)
Perry, Julia, 1924-1979
The bottle
The cask of Amontillado (1954)
The selfish giant (1964)
Pittman, Evelyn LaRue, 1910-1992
Cousin Esther (1957)
Freedom's child (1972)
Price, John Elwood, 1935-1995
The other foot (1973)
Raphling, Sam, 1910-1988
Carry me back (1957)
President Lincoln (1962)
Rivers, Samuel, 1923-
Solomon and Sheba (1973, co-composed with Emory Taylor)
Saint- Georges, 1749-1799
Ernestine (1777)
Guillaume tout coeur (1790)
La chasse (1778)
La fille garçon (1787)
L'amant anonime (1780)
Le droit du seigneur (1784?)
Le marchand du marrons (1788)
Stallings, Lawrence, 1894-1968
Deep river  (1926)
Stewart, Ron, fl. 1960
Sambo (1969)
Still, William Grant, 1895-1978
A bayou legend (1941)
A southern interlude (1943)
Blue steel (1935)
Costaso (1949)
Highway One, U.S.A. (1962)
Minette Fontaine (1958)
Mota (1951)
The pillar (1956)
Troubled island (1941)
Thompson, Richard, 1954-
The mask in the mirror (2012)
Urich, Jean, 1849-1939
Flora MacDonald (1885)
Hermann und Dorotea (1899)
Le carillon (1879)
Le cigale et la formi (1912)
Le pilote (1890)
L'orage (1879)
Tsing-Tau (1914)
White, Clarence Cameron, 1880-1960
Ouanga (1932)
Dominique-René de Lerma

Comment by email:
Much needed comprehensive reference. I am very impressed with Los Angeles Opera educational programs (paid and volunteer staff) in homes, libraries and schools. Music education programs in our high schools, colleges, and universities along with major opera administrators, classical music radio host, and major media are progenitors of standard repertoire and unintentional suppressors of other contributions reflecting the diversity of our nation and world. Science does not support the notion of a superior race although some institutions including mainstream opera project unstated superiority with the usual visual exception. 

This is to suggest that organizations promoting diversity in opera should consider collaborating/partnering for a national effort to heighten awareness of neglected and little know compositions by composers of African descent and others along with open casting. 

I am not sure if African Americans, as a collective group, are regressing or progressing in awareness although current technology facilitate education and awareness on multiple levels. 

This is also to suggest a national dialogue to develop strategies for inclusion. As a former popular music concert promoter and current volunteer non-profit presenter of classical music, i do not think we can influence opera administrators and audiences without creating a visible box office demand for Black opera and open casting. A box office demand can not be accomplished without an African American awareness of benefits. What is the benefit to a new prospective African American audience? My first thought is personal identification with the story and/or character including events in actual history or fiction. Unfortunately, many African Americans view opera as irrelevant to their ethnicity and opera is an art form of European and "white America". John  [John Malveaux]

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