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Subject: Re: Politically Incorrect "Nixon" - HGO response
From: Mary Hanks <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Wed, 25 Jan 2017 14:14:21 -0600

text/plain (91 lines)

Below is a statement from Houston Grand Opera, which was posted on their 
Facebook page:


Houston Grand Opera

Statement from HGO Artistic and Music Director
Patrick Summers and Managing Director Perryn Leech regarding cultural 
casting questions in opera

 HGO welcomes discussion of how the 400-year-old art of opera can adapt to 
reflect today's cultural concerns. Opera companies across the country are 
actively working to engage with these issues and to reflect the diversity of 
our communities. Ten years ago, HGO began working with Houston's minority 
communities to develop operas that celebrated Houston as a meeting place for 
Eastern and Western cultures, exploring stories heard from immigrant 
communities of China, Azerbaijan, Iran, Cambodia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and 
India. The company received the Leading Lights Diversity Award from the 
National Multicultural Institute for that work and became a model for opera 
community engagement across the nation. In 2010, HGO presented the world 
premiere of the first mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, followed by 
a second, El Pasado Nunca se Termina, in 2015.

Opera is, of course, primarily a vocal art, and HGO casts performers on the 
basis of talent, not ethnicity. That is why the company did not hesitate to 
cast two African-American singers as Adina and Belcore in The Elixir of Love 
earlier this season or a Chinese singer as Dr. Bartolo in The Marriage of 
Figaro last season, among many other examples. HGO staff travel around the 
world to identify extraordinary young talent for our Concert of Arias vocal 
competition and our young artists training program, the HGO Studio. Through 
these programs, HGO has enlarged the pool of minority artists who are 
prepared for international careers at the highest levels and has actively 
promoted the careers of many gifted young performers of various races and 
ethnicities. Korean soprano Pureum Jo, one of the principal singers in 
Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's new opera, Dream of the Red Chamber, is 
a 2016 graduate of the HGO Studio.

We recognize that we can do more to engage community leaders in discussing 
the work of adapting and evolving opera for our time. We have already begun 
conversations to address cultural stereotypes in Mozart's The Abduction from 
the Seraglio, which we will present later this season, and look forward to 
expanding the dialogue.

By uniting powerful stories with music and especially with exquisite voices, 
opera can profoundly penetrate our inner world. That is why the art form 
continues to speak to audiences across centuries. HGO is dedicated to 
sharing opera's beauty, meaning, and humanity with all Houstonians even as 
we acknowledge that there is room for change.

January 23 at 6:28pm  Public

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Frank Cadenhead" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:24 PM
Subject: Politically Incorrect "Nixon"

Worthy of a smile. People have posted objections to casting of the current 
Opera production of "Nixon in China," upset that the roles for 
(including the entire chorus?) were not filled by Asian-Americans. What 
those paunchy Italian guys with beards and phoney uniforms singing Pinkerton 
Italian!). I've always found Fasolt and Fafner absurdly portrayed by 
white guys wearing platform shoes and bulky outfits - an insult to real 

Frank Cadenhead

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