Black Opera Research Network

Planned events

Planned events

Africa and the Diaspora on the Contemporary Opera Stage

Details to be confirmed

Black politics is in a phase of global renewal and alliance-forming, with TikTok activists engaged in #BlackLivesMatter and Hong Kong protests, repurposing social media platforms to diverse causes. Colonial, Confederate and slave trader memorial statuary has fallen from Cape Town to Bristol, signaling global trends in protest and resistance to long-established hegemonies. Artists and audiences are also listening outside traditionally assigned genres, and this listening is not merely random, but signals new identity formations. Contemporary opera has heard voices of both a renewed black polity and the willingness to work outside inherited genres. Likewise, however, composers and practitioners are embracing opera as ‘traditional’ form, to reinscribe it with previously untold narratives and meanings. In what ways are Africa and its diaspora telling their own stories on the contemporary opera stage?

Talking points may include, but won’t be limited to:

  • operatic adaptation of existing works (within and across genres)
  • the re-appropriation of contentious forms
  • formal experiments, such as Mthwakazi’s Xhopera
  • ‘traditional’ opera by black creators
  • opera and/as activism

The Operatic Enterprise and the Racialised Politics of Place

Details to be confirmed

For all the international and global aspects of current opera-making, each operatic event unfolds in a particular place and time. In these contexts local, regional and national realities inflect the work’s significance. In tension with the local context, discourses of race, ethnicity, class, empire, nation and gender play out across the stage even before the first note is sung.

Relevant works and productions for consideration may include, but won’t be limited to:

  • Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush in London (2019)
  • Princess Magogo at the Ravinia Festival, Italy (2004)
  • Romeo’s Passion, a community opera presented in Johannesburg (2018)
  • Brett Bailey’s free translation, truncation and polemic recontextualisation of Verdi’s Macbeth in Cape Town (2014)
  • Aida in Cairo

The First Black Opera Research Network Symposium

University of Huddersfield

March 2021

Details for this event will be finalised once greater clarity about the Covid-19 pandemic exists.