Wednesday, March 16, 2016

John Malveaux: YouTube video of Carmon Balthrop singing the aria "She Knows" from William Grant Still's 1941 Opera "A Bayou Legend" with libretto by Verna Arvey

Dominique-René de Lerma

Uploaded on Apr 28, 2009
Carmen Balthrop singing an excerpt from William Grant Still's "A Bayou Legend"

John Malveaux of 

A Bayou Legend is an American opera composed by William Grant Still (1895–1978), with a libretto by his wife and frequent collaborator, Verna Arvey (1910–1987). Still composed A Bayou Legend in 1941, but it was not professionally staged until 1974, when Opera/South in Jackson, Mississippi presented its world premiere, 33 years later. The 1976 west coast premier was staged at Los Angeles City College, featuring a mostly African-American professional cast with pick up orchestra conducted by the late Calvin Simmons, assistant conductor of Los Angeles Philharmonic,  Daniel Carriaga's review of the opera for the Los Angeles Times and Metropolitan Opera News described it as a "lyrical and theatrical masterpiece". This year, 2016, is the 40 year anniversary of west coast premiere of A Bayou Legend and the 35 year anniversary of the first opera, A Bayou Legend, composed by an African American was broadcast on public television. See Carmon Balthrop singing the aria "She Knows" What is the standard of measure for diversity in classical music and opera (high arts)?

John Malveaux

Comment by email:
Thanks for sharing this.  I sang in the production of A Bayou Legend in 1976.  I sang the role of The Minstrel (the opening aria).  Delcina Stevenson, soprano, sang/performed Aurore, Fredrick Winthrop, tenor, sang Baszile, Eileen Moss, mezzo-soprano, sang Clotilde, Leonce sung by James Vincent Pikens, baritone and Father Lestant sung by Marvin Samuels, bass-baritone.  It was, indeed, conducted by Calvin Simmons - a wonderful conductor.  William Grant Still and his wife, Verna Arvey and his daughter Judy Anne Still were in the audience.  It was a wonderful experience.  James S. Bryant, Editor/Publisher, Georgia Laster Branch - NANM, Inc

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