“Lucien-Léon Guillaume Lambert’s 1903 opera, ‘La Flamenca,’ according to the tenor Tyrone Chambers, ‘challenges music history,’ ” writes Lucy Caplan in Thursday’s (5/18) New Yorker. “Having lain dormant since its première, in Paris, a hundred and fourteen years ago, the opera will be heard on Friday for the first time in the United States. The performance, in New Orleans, by OperaCréole, marks a symbolic homecoming: Lambert, born in Paris, was the son of a prominent black musician who had emigrated from Louisiana to France…. OperaCréole was founded, in 2011, by Givonna Joseph, a mezzo-soprano … after hearing one too many times, ‘You’re an opera singer? Black opera singers? I don’t know any black opera singers.’ … OperaCréole’s … first full production, in 2015, was William Grant Still’s rarely performed ‘Minette Fontaine.’ … The conversation about race in major American opera houses has recently made some halting starts…. Washington Post critic Anne Midgette wrote perceptively about the question of race and opera casting, focusing on whether only Asian sopranos should sing the role of Madama Butterfly.… Daniel Bergner’s recent biography of the young African-American bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green sheds light on the troubling racial politics that continue to pervade the opera world.”

Posted May 22, 2017