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Scholarship on Black Opera

This list, curated by BORN members, offers a guide to existing scholarship on black operatic activities around the world. It may be used as a resource for teaching and research, and will be updated regularly. Do be in touch with suggestions for additions!

Published Literature

Acquaye, Saka. 1971. ‘Modern Folk Opera in Ghana’. African Arts 4(2), 60-63.

Agawu, Kofi. 2001. ‘Chaka: An Opera in Two Chants’. Research in African Literatures 32(2), 196-98.

André, Naomi. 2018. Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

André, Naomi. 2016. ‘Carmen in Africa: French Legacies and Global Citizenship’. The Opera Quarterly 32(1), 54-76.

André, Naomi, Karen M. Bryan and Eric Saylor, eds. 2012. Blackness in Opera. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Aspden, Suzanne, ed. 2018. Operatic Geographies: The Place of Opera and the Opera House. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Beier, Uli. 1954. ‘Yoruba Folk Operas’. African Music 1(1), 32-34.

Bynum, Leon James. 2010. ‘Malcolm, Who Have You Been?: Musicalizing the Relationship Between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad in X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X’. Souls: A Critical  Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society 12(1), 55-68.

Cheatham, W.M. 1997. Dialogues on Opera and the African-American Experience. Maryland: Scarecrow Press.

Chybowski, Julia. 2006. ‘The “Black Swan” in England’. American Music Research Center Journal 14, 8-25.

Collins, John E. 1976. ‘Comic Opera in Ghana’. African Arts 9(2), 50-57.

Davies, James and Lindiwe Dovey. 2010. ‘Bizet in Khayelitsha: U-Carmen eKhayelitsha as Audio-Visual Transculturation’. Journal of African Media Studies 2(1), 39-53.

Davies, Sheila Boniface and James Q. Davies. 2012. ‘“So Take This Magic Flute and Blow. It Will Protect Us As We Go”: Impempe Yomlingo (2007-11) and South Africa’s Ongoing Transition’, The Opera Quarterly 28(1-2), 54-71.

Duro-Ladipo, Abiodun and Gbóyèga Kóláwolé. 1997. ‘Opera in Nigera: The Case of Duro Ladipo’s Oba Kòso’. Black Music Research Journal 17(1), 101-29.

Eidsheim, Nina Sun. 2011. ‘Marian Anderson and “Sonic Blackness” in American Opera’, American Quarterly 63(3), 641-71.

Eoan History Project. 2013. Eoan: Our Story. Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books.

Euba, Akin. 2003. ‘Concept of Neo African Music as Manifested in Yoruba Folk Opera’, in The African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective, ed. Ingrid Monson. New York: Routledge, 207-41.

Euba, Akin. 1989. ‘My Approach to Neo-African Music Theatre’, in Essays on Music in Africa: Intercultural Perspectives, Vol. 2. Lagos and Bayreuth: Elékóto Music Centre and Bayreuth African Studies, 73-113.

Fallon, Robert. 2006. ‘Music and the Allegory of Memory in Margaret Garner’. Modern Fiction Studies 52(2), 524-542.

Fourie, William. 2015. ‘Heart of Redness by Neo Muyanga’. Muziki 12(2), 99-103.

Graziano, John. 2015. ‘Race and Racism’, in The Oxford Handbook of Opera, ed. Helen Greenwald. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 754-73.

Graziano, John. 2000. ‘The Early Life and Career of the “Black Patti”: The Odyssey of an African American Singer in the Late Nineteenth Century’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 53(3), 543-96.

Giere, Samuel D. 2016. ‘Mark Dornford-May: Transposing the Classic’, in The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and its Reception in Film: Part 1, ed. Rhonda Bletsch. Berlin: De Gruyter, 721-28.

Gobbato, Angelo. 2018. A Passion for Opera. Auckland Park: Staging Post.

Guarracino, Serena. 2015. ‘Africa as Voices and Vibes: Musical Routes in Toni Morrison’s Margaret Garner and Desdemona.’ Research in African Literatures 46(4), 56-71.

Gutkin, David and Marti Newland. 2015. ‘H. Lawrence Freeman and the Harlem Renaissance’. American Music Review: The H. Wiley Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music 45(1), 1-6.

Gutkin, David. 2019. ‘The Modernities of H. Lawrence Freeman’. Journal of the American Musicological Society 72(3), 719-779.

Ingraham, Mary I., Joseph K. So and Roy Moodley, eds. 2016. Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance. New York: Routledge.

Jennings, La Vinia Delois. 2016. Margaret Garner: The Premiere Performances of Toni Morrison’s Libretto. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Karantonis, Pamela and Dylan Robinson, eds. 2011. Opera Indigene: Re/Presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures. Farnham: Ashgate.

Kernodle, Tammy. 1999. ‘Arias, Communists, and Conspiracies: The History of Still’s Troubled Island’. The Musical Quarterly 83(4), 487-508.

King, Patrick. ‘All That Jazz: Musical Idiom, Critical Reception, an African American Narrative in Opera’, in Text & Presentation, 2013, ed. Graley Herren. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 140-157

Kodat, Catherine Gunther. 2008. ‘Margaret Garner and the Second Tear’. American Quarterly 60(1), 159-171.

Mhlambi, Innocentia J. 2016. ‘Winnie: The Opera and Embodying South African Opera’. African Studies 75(1), 1-9.

Mhlambi, Innocentia J. 2015. ‘The Question of Nationalism in Mzilikazi Khumalo’s Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu (2002)’. Journal of African Cultural Studies 27(3), 294-310.

Murchison, Gayle. 2012. ‘New Paradigms in William Grant Still’s Blue Steel’, in André, Naomi, Karen M. Bryan and Eric Saylor, eds. 2012. Blackness in Opera. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 141-163.

Needham, Maureen. 2002. ‘Kykunkor, or The Witch Woman: An African Opera in America, 1934’, in Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance, ed. Thomas F. De Frantz. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 233-66.

Nii-Dortey, Moses N. 2015. ‘Folk Opera and the Cultural Politics of Post-Independence Ghana: Saka Acquaya’s The Lost Fishermen’, in The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures, eds. Derek R. Peterson, Kozo Gavua, and Ciraj Rassool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 222-33.

Ngqungwana, Musa. 2018. Odyssey of an African Opera Singer. Cape Town: Penguin Books.

Ogunjobi, Oluseyi. 2014 ‘The Creative Development, Importance, and Dramaturgy of Duro Lapido’s Oba Kò So’, in Syncretic Arenas: Essays on Postcolonial African Drama and Theatre for Esiaba Irobi, ed. Isidore Diala. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 291-318.

Olsen, Andrew. 2012. ‘Mozart’s African Jacket: Die Zauberflöte and its Localisation in The Magic Flute (Impempe Yomlingo)’. Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa 9(1), 67-80.

Omojola, Bode. 2004. ‘Yoruba Opera’, in Understanding Yoruba Life and Culture, eds. Nike Lawal, Matthew N.O. Sadiku and P. Ade Dopamu. Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 633-49.

Pistorius, Juliana. 2019. ‘Inhabiting Whiteness: The Eoan Group La Traviata, 1956’. Cambridge Opera Journal 31(1), 63-84.

Pistorius, Juliana. 2019. ‘Predicaments of Coloniality, or, Opera Studies Goes Ethno’. Music & Letters 100(3), 529-539.

Pistorius, Juliana. 2017. ‘Eoan, Assimilation, and the Charge of “Coloured Culture”’, SAMUS: South African Music Studies 36/37, 389-415.

Pistorius, Juliana. 2017. ‘Coloured Opera as Subversive Forgetting’, Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies 43(2), 230-42.

Powrie, Phil. 2007. ‘A Postcolonial Carmen (Ramaka 2001)’, in Carmen on Film: A Cultural History, eds. Phil Powrie, Bruce Babington, Ann Davies, and Chris Berriam. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Roos, Hilde. 2019. The La Traviata Affair: Opera in the Age of Apartheid. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Roos, Hilde. 2016. ‘Briewe aan ‘n diva: die verswyging van gay-identiteit in Gordon Jephtas se briewe aan May Abrahamse’ (Letters to a diva: the concealment of gay identity in the letters of Gordon Jephtas to May Abrahamse). Litnet Akademies 13(1), 31-55.

Roos, Hilde. 2015. ‘Eoan—Our Story: Treading New Methodological Paths in Music Historiography’. Historia 60(2), 185-200.

Roos, Hilde. 2014a. ‘Remembering to Forget the Eoan Group—the Legacy of an Opera Company from the Apartheid Era’. South African Theatre Journal 27(1), 1-18.

Roos, Hilde. 2014b. ‘Probing the Boundaries of Opera as Notated Practice in South Africa: The Case of Eoan’. Muziki 11(2), 79-88.

Roos, Hilde. 2012. ‘Indigenisation and History: How Opera in South Africa Became South African Opera’. Acta Academica Supplement 1, 117-155.

Schmalenberger, Sarah. 2006. ‘Debuting Her Political Voice: The Lost Opera of Shirley Graham’. Black Music Research Journal 26(1), 39-87.

Soll, Beverly. 2005. I Dream a World: The Operas of William Grant Still. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press.

Somma, Donato. 2016. ‘“Just Say the Words”: An Operatic Rendering of Winnie’. African Studies 75(1), 32-47.

Somma, Donato and Neo Muyanga. 2016. ‘“The Musical Thread”: Neo Muyanga on Opera and South Africa’. African Studies 75(1), 74-97.

Stolp, Mareli. 2016. ‘Van Opera tot “Politopera”? Nuwe Strominge in Suid-Afrikaanse Operakomposisie en -Resepsie’. Litnet Akademies 13(1), 138-160.

Story, Rosalyn M. 1990. And So I Sing: African-American Divas of Opera and Concert. New York: Warner.

Tsou, Judy. 2015. ‘Composing Racial Difference in Madama Butterfly: Tonal Language and the Power of Cio-Cio San’, in Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship, eds. Olivia Bloechl, Melanie Lowe and Jeffrey Kallberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 214-37.

Turner, Kristen. 2015. ‘Class, Race, and Uplift in the Opera House: Theodore Drury and his Company Cross the Color Line’, Journal of Musicological Research 34(4), 320-351.

Viljoen, Santisa and Marita Wenzel. 2016. ‘The Same, Yet Different: Re-Encoding Identity in U-Carmen eKhayelitsha’. Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa 13(1/2), 53-70.

Viviers, Etienne and Mareli Stolp. 2016. ‘‘n Gesprek oor Suid-Afrikaanse Opera: Etienne Viviers Gesels met Mareli Stolp’. Litnet.

Wheeler, Maurice B. 2018. ‘An Unlikely Champion: Rudolf Bing and the Demise of Jim Crow at the Metropolitan Opera’. Notes 75(2), 207-236.

Worley, Ben. 2018. ‘Harry Lawrence Freeman: Pioneering the African American Grand Opera’. Journal of Singing 75(1), 17-24.

Zenenga, Praise. 2015. ‘The Total Theater Aesthetic Paradigm in African Theater’, in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater, ed. Nadine George-Graves. New York: Oxford University Press, 236-51.

Unpublished Dissertations

Beckley, Joseryl Olayinka Lucy. 2016. ‘African and Western Aspects of Ballanta’s Opera Afiwa’. PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia.

Caplan, Lucy. 2019. ‘High Culture on the Lower Frequencies: African Americans and Opera, 1900-1933’. PhD Dissertation, Yale University.

Davidson, Celia E. 1980. ‘Operas by Afro-American Composers: A Critical Survey and Analysis of Selected Works’. PhD Dissertation, The Catholic University of America.

Gutkin, David. 2015. ‘American Opera, Jazz, and Historical Consciousness, 1924-1994’. PhD Dissertation, Columbia University.

Muller, Wayne. 2018. ‘A Reception History of Opera in Cape Town: Tracing the Development of a Distinctly South African Operatic Aesthetic (1985-2015)’. PhD Dissertation, Stellenbosch University.

Nomcweya, Mzwanele J. 2018. ‘Manifestations of Indigenous Content in South African Opera After 1994’. MTech Dissertation, Tshwane University of Technology.

Olivier, Antoinette. 2014. ‘Exploring Contributions to Opera by The Black Tie Ensemble: A Historical Case Study’. MMus Dissertation, North-West University.

Pistorius, Juliana. 2018. ‘The Eoan Group and the Politics of Coloured Opera in Apartheid South Africa’. DPhil Dissertation, University of Oxford.

Roos, Hilde. 2010. ‘Opera Production in the Western Cape: Strategies in Search of Indigenization’. PhD Dissertation. University of Stellenbosch.

Sello, Lebona R. 2018. ‘A Perspective on the Nature and Function of Contemporary Opera in South Africa Through the Lens of the Opera Mandela Trilogy. MMus Dssertation, North-West University.

Stewart, Austin Jonathan Jerome. 2019. ‘The Opera is Booming. This is a City. Opera in the Urban Frontier of Denver, 1864-1893’. PhD Dissertation, University of Michigan.

Audio-Visual Resources

Cohen, Julie, dir. 2013. Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing [documentary film]. USA: BetterThanFiction Productions and United Nations Television.

Diawara, Manthia, dir. 2017. An Opera for the World [documentary film]. Mali, Portugal, USA: Maumaus/Lumiar Cité.

Henegan, Catherine, dir. 2018. Sicula iOpera: Remaking Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth [documentary film]. Italy: Produzione Straordinaria.

Kaganof, Aryan, dir. 2013. An Inconsolable Memory [documentary film]. South Africa: DOMUS.

Schmidt-Garre, Jan and Marieke Schroeder, dir. 2009 [1999], Aida’s Brothers and Sisters: Black Voices in Opera and Concert [documentary film]. Germany: Arthaus Musik GmbH 101 367.

The Metropolitan Opera. 2019. Black Voices Rise: African American Artists at the Met, 1955-1985 [CD]. New York: Metropolitan Opera.