black opera singer

View of soprano Leontyne Price in Puccini’s opera, “Tosca.” Stamped on back: “NBC photo.” Handwritten on back: “Miss Price in Act II.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
Shoutout to the black boys

Shoutout to the black boys who do ballet.
Shoutout to the black boys who are gymnasts.
Shoutout to the black boys who are acrobats.
Shoutout to the black boys that do yoga.
Shoutout to the black boys who are cheerleaders.
Shoutout to the black boys that play soccer.
Shoutout to the black boys that play volleyball.
Shoutout to the black boys that play tennis.
Rugby.
Golf.
Hockey.
Shoutout to the black boys who are models.
Shoutout to the black boys who are poets/writers.
Shoutout to the black boys who cook/bake.
Shoutout to the black boys that are opera singers.
Shoutout to the black boys that are fat.
Shoutout to the black boys that are skinny/bony.
Shoutout to the black boys with eating disorders.
Shoutout to the black boys with mental illnesses.
Shoutout to the black boys with disabilities.
Shoutout to the black boys who are gay.
Shoutout to the black boys who are trans.
Shoutout to the black boys who are bisexual.
Shoutout to the black boys who are asexual.
Shoutout to the black boys with crooked teeth.
Shoutout to the black boys with huge/tiny ears.
Shoutout to the black boys with weird belly buttons.
Shoutout to the black boys that are short.
Shoutout to the black boys that can’t grow facial hair.
Shoutout to the black boys that are afraid to be themselves.
Shoutout to the black boys that never feel like they are enough.

You are enough, and we love you. If they don’t, I sure as hell do. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t talented or beautiful, or “not black enough” or “man enough” because of the things you enjoy or deal with in live. You are valid. You are loved. You are important. And that’ll never change.

Portrait of soprano Leontyne Price in Mozart’s opera, “Don Giovanni.” Printed on front: “Fayer, Wien.” Stamped on back: “Photo, Fayer, Wien I, Opernring 6. Handwritten on back: "Salzburg, 1960. Don Giovanni.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

View of mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett performing in Gluck’s opera, “Iphigenie en Tauride.” Label on back: “Iphigenie in Tauride, Paris Opera.” Handwritten on back: “[copyright] Daniel Cande. 8, avenue Charles de Gaulle, 92100 Boulogne.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
So I have a performance at the National Opera Center tonight

It’s the one performance I do every year and honestly, it may be my last. The show starts at tonight 7 PM EST and all you gotta do is click that link to see it being live streamed tonight. I’m doing my one opera piece and then there’s a song and dance at the very end. I would really appreciate if any of you were to go watch this online

www.youtube.com/natoperacenterlive

Happy Birthday Irene Oliver! (Nov 15, 1937 - May 21, 1998)

Portrait of soprano Irene Oliver. Handwritten on back: “Irene Oliver, 2nd Bess.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Happy birthday, Martina Arroyo!

Martina Arroyo (born February 2, 1937), is an American operatic soprano who had a major international opera career from the 1960s through the 1980s. She was part of the first generation of black opera singers to achieve wide success, and is viewed as part of an instrumental group of performers who helped break down the barriers of racial prejudice in the opera world.

Arroyo first rose to prominence at the Zurich Opera between 1963–1965, after which she was one of the Metropolitan Opera’s leading sopranos between 1965 and 1978. During her years at the Metropolitan Opera, she was also a regular presence at the world’s best opera houses, performing on the stages of La Scala, Covent Garden, the Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Colón, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Vienna State Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the San Francisco Opera, to name just a few. She is best known for her performances of the Italian spinto repertoire, and in particular, her portrayals of Verdi and Puccini heroines. Her last opera performance was in 1991, after which she has devoted her time to teaching singing on the faculties of various universities in the United States and Europe.

On December 8, 2013, Arroyo received a Kennedy Center Honor.

Arroyo was born in New York City, the younger of two children of Demetrio Arroyo, originally from Puerto Rico, and Lucille Washington, a native of Charleston, South Carolina. Her older brother grew up to become a Baptist minister. The family lived in Harlem near St. Nicholas Avenue and 111th Street. Demetrio was a mechanical engineer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and earned a good salary which enabled Arroyo’s mother to stay at home with their children. His job also allowed the family to experience New York’s fine cultural offerings and the family frequented museums, concerts, and the theatre. It was attending several performances of Broadway shows during the 1940s that first inspired Arroyo’s interest in becoming a performer. Her mother humored her dreams and allowed Arroyo to take ballet classes. Her mother was also a talented amateur classical pianist and taught her daughter to play the instrument. Arroyo’s other musical experiences as a child were largely through singing in the choirs at her Baptist church and as a student at Hunter College High School.

After finishing high school in 1953, Arroyo attended Hunter College where she earned a B.A. in Romance languages in 1956 at the young age of nineteen. While there she studied voice as a hobby in an opera workshop with Joseph Turnau. Turnau recognized that Martina was a major talent who just needed proper training. After the workshop ended, he introduced her to voice instructor Marinka Gurewich, who immediately took Arroyo on as a student. When Arroyo did not take her training as seriously as her teacher wanted, Gurewich eventually threatened to end their lessons. Arroyo said of the incident, “It was a real wake-up call. Up to then, I must have been, in my mind, treating singing as a hobby, a lark–something I loved that I was dabbling in.” She further explained that at that point most of the major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, had never cast a black singer, so in her mind “opera wasn’t a real possibility.” Gurewich’s threat, however, forced her to take her studies more seriously and she continued to study with her until Gurewich’s death in 1990. Another important partnership formed around this time was with concert manager Thea Dispeker who, after attending one of Arroyo’s recitals, offered her services at no charge until Arroyo’s career took off. Dispeker helped manage much of Arroyo’s career over the next several decades.

More on Martina Arroyo

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Black History Spotlight: Grace Bumbry

Grace Bumbry is considered one of the foremost mezzo-sopranos of the opera world and has performed some of the most iconic roles during her career, including Lady Macbeth and Princess Eboli of Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera House. 

In 1959, Bumbry made her debut in London at 22 years old. During the next two years she performed across Europe, in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Germany. Her stellar performance in Germany – where she was the first black opera singer to perform – earned her the Wagner Medal and worldwide recognition. 

Over the course of her long and successful career, Bumby has been invited to sing at the White House and perform at President Reagan’s inauguration, earned a spot on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and been recognized for her contributions to the performing arts at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Photo by David Lees 

To my Black opera singers on here

Opera Ebony is having a competition.
Deadline is Oct 5th

They do of course allow people of all ethnicities, but still, for those of us who don’t see many others of our skin in pursuing this career, it might be fun! And, ya know money.

View of soprano Joanne C.P. Raines performing role of Magda from Puccini’s opera, “La rondine.” Pianist in background. Stamped on back: “Photo by P.R. Hendren.” Handwritten on back: “Joanne C.P. Raines. Magda fr. Rondine, 1972.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

View of soprano Leontyne Price, Helen George and Cesare Siepi in Mozart’s opera, “Don Giovanni.” Handwritten on back: “Helen George, Leontyne Price & Cesare Siepi in ‘Don Giovanni.’”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

An eagle-eyed follower (hat tip to @barcarole) noticed that the picture we posted on Leontyne Price’s birthday February 10th said that the performer on the right in that picture was Cesare Siepi, when it was really Charles K. L. Davis from the same production. Here is another pic from the same production showing Leontyne, Davis (left) and Siepi (right).

View of soprano Leontyne Price, Charles Davis and Cesare Siepi in Mozart’s opera, “Don Giovanni.” Handwritten on back: “Chas. Davis, Leontyne Price & Cesare Siepi in ‘Don Giovanni.’ (TV).”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Portrait of mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry and soprano Leyla Gencer in Ponchielli’s opera “La Gioconda.” Stamped on back: “San Francisco Opera.” Handwritten on back: “1967, Leyla Gencer as La Gioconda & Grace Bumbry as Laura.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Happy Birthday Maria Ewing! (born March 27, 1950) American opera singer, born in Detroit, Michigan.

Portrait of mezzo-soprano Maria Ewing. Stamped on back: “Copyright by Oliver Herrmann, Grolmanstr. 58, 1000 Berlin 12, Tel. 030, 312 53 66.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library