Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'This is a list of Black singers in their Met debuts after Miss Anderson'

[Mattiwilda Dobbs]

John Malveaux of writes:

Previously I reported that in the Los Angeles area, I was unaware of main media or black media newspaper coverage of Latonia Moore’s historic 11th hour debut as Aida at the Metropolitan Opera on March 3, 2012. 

Leontyne Price retired from the opera stage at the Met in 1985 with her signature role, Aida. Taken from the Met website, here are African-American first performances - Helmsley Winfield danced in the role of Witch Doctor in The Emperor Jones during the 1932–33 season.

However, Janet Collins was the first African-American dancer engaged by the Metropolitan Opera as solo dancer in a variety of works. She made her debut on opening night, November 11, 1951, as soloist in

Marian Anderson was the first African-American vocal soloist engaged by the Met. She made her debut as Ulrica in
Un Ballo in Maschera on January 1, 1955.

Robert McFerrin was the first African-American male singer engaged by the Met and made his debut as Amonasro in
Aida on January 27, 1955


To the previous report, I received an immediate response from OurWeekly Newspaper as follows:
Thanks for the heads-up. We may be able to use a mention of her debut next week.


The following response came from Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma:
Dear John and friends:
You stimulated the following, even though it is an incomplete (thank goodness) draft. This is a list of Black singers in their Met debuts after Miss Anderson.
1956 Mattiwilda Dobbs, soprano, as Gilda, in Rigoletto (Verdi)
1958 Gloria Davy, soprano, as Aida (Verdi)
1959 Martina Arroyo, soprano, as the celestial voice in Don Carlo (Verdi)
1961 Leontyne Price, soprano, as Leonora in Il trovatore (Verdi)
1961 George Shirley, tenor, as Ferrando in Così fan tutte (Mozart)
1963 Junetta Jones, soprano, as the celestial voice in Don Carlo (Verdi)
1965 Grace Bumbry, mezzo-soprano (later, soprano), as Eboli in Don Carlo (Verdi)
1965 Felicia Weathers, soprano, as Lisa in Pique dame (Chaikovskii)
*1966 Reri Grist, soprano, as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)
1966 Claudia Lindsey, soprano, as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
1966 Eugene Holmes, baritone, as Schaunard in La bohême (Puccini)
1967 Gwendolyn Killebrew, mezzo-soprano, as Waltraute in Die Walküre (Wagner)
1968 Shirley Verrett, soprano (originally, mezzo-soprano), as Carmen (Bizet)
1970 Raeschelle Potter, soprano, as the trainbearer in Elektra (Strauß)
1973 Clamma Dale, soprano; Barbara Hendricks, soprano; Melvin Lowery (tenor) 1973 Gary Burgess, tenor, as the sailor in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)
1973 Matthew Murray, baritone, as Dido in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)
1973 Elvira Green, mezzo-soprano, as the madrigalist in Manon Lescaut (Puccini) and Orphan in Der Rosenkavalier (Strauß).
1974 Arthur Thompson, baritone, as the Mandarin in Turandot (Puccini)
1974 Margaret Tynes, soprano, as Její Pastorkyna in Jenufa (Janacek)
1975 Leona Mitchell, soprano, as Micaela in Carmen (Bizet); *Willard White, baritone as Golaud (Debussy)
1976 Maria Ewing, mezzo-soprano (later, soprano), as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
1976 Simon Estes, bass-baritone, as Orestes in Norma (Bellini)
1977 Kathleen Battle, soprano, as the shepherd in Tannhäuser (Wagner)
1977 Hilda Harris, mezzo-soprano, as Wardrobe mistress and Schoolboy in Lulu (Berg)
1977 Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano (later, soprano), as Marina in Boris Godunov (Mussorgskii) and Olga, in Eugène Onegin (Chaikovskii).
1977 Carmen Balthrop, soprano, as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
1977 Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano, as Marina in Boris Godunov (Mussorgskii)
1978 Calvin Simmons, conductor of Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck)
1978 Andrew Smith, as a mate in Billy Budd (Britten)
1979 Phillip Creech, tenor, as Eduardo in Manon (Massenet) and as Beppe in I pagliacci (Leoncavallo).
1979 Christiane Eda-Pierre, soprano, as Constanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
1979 Seth McCoy, tenor, as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
1981 Gwendolyn Bradley, soprano, as the nightingale in L'enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel)
1982 Barbara Conrad, mezzo-soprano, as Azucena in Il trovatore (Verdi)
1982 Myra Merritt, soprano, as the shepherd in Tannhäuser (Wagner)
1982 Mavis Martin, soprano, as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Wagner)
1983 Jessye Norman, soprano, as Didon and Cassandra in Les troyens (Berlioz)
1983 Terry Cook, bass, as Grenvil in La traviata (Verdi)
1983 David Arnold, baritone, as Enrico in Lucia (Donizetti)
1983 Roberta Alexander, soprano, as Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Mozart.
1984 Hillary Johnson, mezzo-soprano, as Mother in Les contes d’Hoffmann (Offenbach).
1985 Ben Holt, baritone, as Schaunard in La bohême (Puccini) and as Black cat in L’enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel).
1985 Gregg Baker, baritone (Crown), Priscilla Baskerville, soprano (Lily), Vincent de Cordova, John Freeman-McDaniels, tenor (Mingo), *Bruce Hubbard, bass-baritone (Jake), Clinton Chinyelu Ingram, Jay Aubrey Jones, Michael Lofton, Robert Mosley, Donald Osborne, Jerrold Sanders, Michael Smartt, baritone (Jim), Bernard Thacker, Veronica Tyler, Mervin Wallace, and Charles Williams in Porgy and Bess (Gershwin)
1986 Harolyn Blackwell, soprano, as Xenia in Boris Godunov (Mussorgskii) and Posette in Manon (Massenet).
1986 Vinson Cole, tenor, as Rodolfo in La bohème (Puccini) and Alfred in Der Fledermaus (Johann Strauß).
1986 Gail Gilmore, mezzo-soprano, as Kundry in Parsifal (Wagner).
1986 Barbara Hendricks, soprano, as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier (Strauß).
1986 Consuela Smith, mezzo-soprano, as Schwertleite in Die Walküre (Wagner).
1991 Kevin Short, bass-baritone, in Idomeneo (Mozart)
After contacting Andre Graves, he was kind enough to send the following update:
1995 Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano, as Carmen (Bizet)

Comments by email:

Hi Mr.Zick, 
As to this list of Met Debuts add:
Robert McFerrin 1955 as  Amonasro in Aida
Givonna [Givonna Joseph]

Kenneth Tarver has sung  2-3 roles at the Met but has a more extensive career in Europe. Ken is an African American tenor from Detroit.
Byron Hanson

From a list of 338 (as of October 4, 2010) singers, conductors, and dancers who have appeared in at least 250 performances at the Metropolitan Opera as of the 2009/2010 season, Tenor George Shirley is listed with 251 performances and the only African American name familiar to me. See   John Malveaux

I have learned from Darryl Taylor that Phillip Creech and Arthur Thompson are also African American.  John Malveaux

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