Jun 17 2021


12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Charting ‘Black Opera’

What is Black? What is Opera? When does something qualify as ‘Black Opera’? In the second of its series of inaugural panels, BORN grapples with the parameters of its own terms of reference. Taking as a starting point the ‘Black Opera Database’ created by BORN affiliates Allison Lewis and Nicholas Newton, the conversation interrogates the politics of racial categorization and generic classification. We ask what institutional integration might mean for works of art that resist prevailing taxonomies of opera and Blackness. Finally, panellists ask if it is possible to circumscribe the field of ‘Black opera’ without allowing practitioners or their works to be co-opted into a politics of inequality and/or exclusion.

Talking points included:

  • diverse demarcations of Blackness in different times and places
  • works of art as ciphers for racialized expectations
  • operatic Blackness as ‘vernacular’ or ‘folk’ construct
  • opera and its generic others
  • what should or shouldn’t be included in a database of ‘Black’ operas?
  • the potential co-option of Black opera as an antidote to white liberal guilt


Naomi André (USA)

Panelists (click on each panelist’s name to read their bio)

  1. Genevieve Arkle (UK)
  2. Mandla Langa (South Africa)
  3. Allison Lewis (USA)

Read an interview with Allison Lewis and Nicholas Newton on the development of the Black Opera Database here.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.