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Is This American Opera’s Makeover Movement?

Operas around the world have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But after a summer where conversations about industry racism rocked the art form — what could performances look and sound like when they start again?
Operas around the world have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But after a summer where conversations about industry racism rocked the art form — what could performances look and sound like when they start again?

This year, composer Anthony Davis won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his opera “The Central Park Five.” 

Exactly three weeks after the award was announced, George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.  

And like so many other industries, his death reignited a conversation that was already stewing in the opera world about diversity and representation. 

As The New York Times put it, the art form “historically has elevated select singers of color while remaining overwhelmingly white offstage, from the rehearsal room to the board room.”

Here’s mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, moderating a panel about its future.

Those conversations continue to this day, alongside others about how opera will survive a year without traditional performances, and what it should look and sound like when the curtains finally rise again.  

What could opera’s future look like? And how is the art form confronting its exclusionary past?

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

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