Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Aida's Brothers and Sisters Black Voices in Opera|
Actors: Verrett, Bumbry, Anderson, Robeson, Price
Genres: Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Intriguing documentary about black singers of classical music — set against the background of black emancipation in politics — and society in the US. — Think of today's top operatic voices, and black owners of them are as — li... more »
One Regal Diva after Another
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 07/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Black students almost fell on the floor laughing when they saw that I was a Mathlete. Instead of being ashamed, I had to giggle too because I no Black folk wouldn't expect one of our own to join that. I met a brother in college who said people are shocked that he played water polo at Amherst. Notice that Condi Rice with her conservative self majored in Russian, or something. Dr. Angela Davis discussed how people deemed her inauthentic for having studied in Germany. You don't have to be an opera fan to be fascinated by this documentary. It's really a meditation about when African Americans do things that are not deemed "typical."
Interviewees speak of universal concerns to our group. They spoke about having to be better than the majority to get a job. They spoke of being paid less. They spoke about their discomfort in having to play that one role designated for a Black performer. A great thing is how they honor the past. The work pays attention to Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson. The singers fight the idea that opera is Eurocentic. In a time when Obama is now president, there is a message of healing here. The Daughters of the American Revolution, who banned Anderson, invited Leontyne Price to perform decades later and she praised Anderson before her performance. This work focuses on the sisters, but then speaks to the brothers. They speak of being denied roles solely because decision makers refused to pair them with white female love interests.
There were several times when I would unexpectedly shout, "Work, girl!" when seeing some of these people hit those high notes. I simply loved that this DVD offered many foreign language subtitle options. This work is actually old; at one point an interviewee refers to the 1990s only. This had the late Dr. Edward Said in it. I know he's famous for his thoughts on orientalism, but I didn't know he had so much knowledge on African-American cultural productions. May he rest in peace. Some performers said, "I can tell when a Black person is singing." Many may not like the essentialism of that statement. Some may feel that the work shows too many performance scenes while others will deem it to have shown too few.
I really liked this work and encourage all those interested in African-American expressive culture to view it."