Monday, July 6, 2020

A 4th of July Message from OperaCréole Founders Givonna Joseph and Aria Mason

As a new movement takes root around the world, OperaCréole remains committed to dismantling misconceptions that foster racism.

Today, as we celebrate the revolution that rose up to fight for independence, freedom and justice, let us remember that in 1770 Crispus Attucks, a man of African and Native American heritage was to the first to give his life for America’s freedom. That was the Boston Massacre. The American Revolution was successful in part because of black men, enslaved and free, who are now in the paper shredders of history.

So many racial fears and misconceptions are fostered by the elimination of our contributions from textbooks. White children can go from first grade to graduate school without learning anything about the Black contributions to this country that make their daily lives possible.

Some may not see an opera company as having a role in dismantling white supremacy, but it has often been through the excellence of operatic artists of African descent that other doors have been opened. For example, the Lincoln Memorial concert by Marian Anderson became a seminal moment in American history. 

Our company grew out of the fertile, luxuriant soil that is Louisiana Creole culture. We chose our name to honor the meaning of the word Creole, “native to the place”, and celebrate music and culture that could only have been birthed here. 

As mother and daughter, we also sought to honor those ancestors who came before us, and the excellence they birthed in trauma and triumph. We are proud to thrive and capture the world around us as Black women, with our multifaceted Créolité as the lens to our Blackness. 

We remain committed to bringing these works to life through a showcase of Black excellence both on and off stage. Our Board of Directors, stage directors, managers, and production teams will remain majority Black and other people of color. We will continue to defy the conventional mindset that melanated brilliance has no footing in the classical world. 

We pledge to continue fostering the talent of Black and brown musical artists, both vocal and instrumental, and support their development as storytellers and innovators in the often prejudiced world of opera. The stories we bring to life will continue to be those written by composers of the African diaspora which speak to the panoply of experiences we have had, and the rich worlds we create. We know that there are still those who would present our people’s work without partnering with organizations of color, but we are committed to carry this tradition of melanated excellence into the present by providing a showcase for primarily Black and brown artists. 

COVID-19 has put a pause on our spring and fall schedule, but we are eagerly anticipating the celebration of our 10th anniversary in the spring.

Our 10th Anniversary goals are:
1. Expanding our education program: creating more in-school programming and building an arts integration format; delivering more lectures to colleges and universities; developing trainings for music educators designed to shift from primarily Eurocentric music curricula; and working with conservatory programs toward promoting inclusion of our composers
2. Continue our research into history and composition of Black composers in Opera, especially in New Orleans.
3. Increasing operational capital that will allow us to employ our administrative staff and Music Director on a part time basis instead of just per contract; expanding our production storage and scenic studio
4. Developing a Summer Young Artist Program and internship and fellowship programs for history and arts administration students
5.Building our Board of Directors, and creating an Advisory Board of stakeholders of Afro-Creole culture.
6. Building upon our original opera “The Lions of Reconstruction” and presenting contemporary works by black composers.

Thank you all for 9 years of support
We are proud that so much of OperaCréole’s support is across racial lines. We want to maintain this going forward and continue to expand and diversify our audience through outreach to communities of color. 

We ask you now to roll up your sleeves and help us build as a company!
Justice and equality can only truly be built by a working village!

To support our ongoing efforts go to: 

Today, yesterday, and forever, we are proud to sing: BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Givonna Joseph
and Aria Mason

Givonna Joseph
Founder and Artistic Directer

No comments: