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Subject: Re: Politically Incorrect "Nixon" - HGO response
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 25 Jan 2017 13:24:10 -0700

text/plain (124 lines)

I don't even know why they bothered to respond to this idiocy.  I remember
years ago when Welsh actor Jonathan Price was asked to reprise his role
from the London stage at the New York staging of Miss Saigon and there was
a big uproar in NY because he was white.  No matter he was from the
original cast.  No matter the character was Eurasian.  The first principal
in casting is talent.   Nothing else matters.  If they write an opera about
Orangeman in the White House and want to cast a Martian, who cares as long
as he can sing. This is almost as stupid as the big fuss made about Otello
hot having dark make up or Aida and Amonasro wearing make up.  Who cares?
I know at least two black tenors who would be great, great Otello's if
given the chance.  I think our hang ups on race in this country is one of
the reasons the great Leontyne Price never essayed the role of Desdemona
which would have been a perfect fit for her, or Elsa in Lohengrin for that
matter.  Race doesn't or should not matter.  Period.


On Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 1:14 PM, Mary Hanks <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Below is a statement from Houston Grand Opera, which was posted on their
> Facebook page:
> --Mary
> 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 ยท 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
> Houston
> Opera production of "Nixon in China," upset that the roles for
> non-Caucasians
> (including the entire chorus?) were not filled by Asian-Americans. What
> about
> those paunchy Italian guys with beards and phoney uniforms singing
> Pinkerton (in
> Italian!). I've always found Fasolt and Fafner absurdly portrayed by
> medium-sized
> white guys wearing platform shoes and bulky outfits - an insult to real
> giants
> everywhere.
> Frank Cadenhead
> **********************************************
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