Video Published: 15 Apr 2021

Belonging in Opera: Learning from Our Past, Engaging with Our Future

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Washington University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, & Equity co-presented “Belonging in Opera: Learning from Our Past, Engaging with Our Future” in April 2021.

This two-night symposium explores the history of Black composers and the current and future landscape of Black creativity in opera and adjacent spaces. Dr. Naomi André, University of Michigan professor and author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement, leads this important discussion with acclaimed composers, artists, scholars, and administrators.

For more detailed resources related to the symposium topics, visit Washington University's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity Arts & Culture resource page.

Belonging in Opera was made possible with a leadership gift from Kim & Tim Eberlein.


Part I: April 6, 2021
Part II: April 13, 2021

Dr. Naomi André is a Professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She received her B.A. from Barnard College and M.A. and Ph.D. (Music: Musicology) from Harvard University. Her research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race in the US, Europe, and South Africa. Her publications include topics on Italian opera, Schoenberg, women composers, and teaching opera in prisons. Her book, Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (University of Illinois Press, 2018) won the Lowens Book Award from the Society for American Music and Judy Tsou Critical Race Studies Award from the American Musicological Society. Her earlier books include Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (2006) and Blackness in Opera (2012, co-edited collection). She has edited and contributed to clusters of articles in African Studies and the Journal of the Society for American Music. Currently she is a co-editor for the essay collection African Performance Arts and Political Acts (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming in 2022). She is the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Seattle Opera and a founding member of the Black Opera Research Network (BORN).

Joining Dr. André for this series are composers Anthony Davis and Damien Sneed; artists Nicole Cabell (soprano), Briana Hunter (mezzo-soprano), Will Liverman (baritone), and Morris Robinson (bass); leaders Afton Battle (General Director, Fort Worth Opera), Quodesia “Quo” Johnson (Education and Company Culture Manager, The Dallas Opera), and Marcia Sells (Chief Diversity Officer, the Metropolitan Opera); and scholars Todd Decker (Washington University), Lauren Eldridge Stewart (Washington University), Maya Gibson (University of Missouri), Kori Hill (University of North Carolina), Marcía Porter (Florida State University), and Louise Toppin (University of Michigan).

Learn more about Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.