As a white person who got a callback to the Curtis and then a cold I’m appalled and furious. I adore classical music particularly opera and I’ve always wanted to share that with as many people as possible. I’ve always been annoyed at how much the tickets cost even though I understand why they do, but I’m ashamed that my whiteness has shielded me from noticing some of this racism.
I noticed the big stuff. And there’s plenty of big stuff particularly in opera, but I had no idea that the racism pervades right down to the behavior of the audience. That’s just sick. I’m so sorry people treat you like this and that you have to deal with this as a classical musician. If I were performing I’d much rather sing to an audience of one black guy than a sea of white folks supposedly made uncomfortable by that black guy’s presence. This idea of “white spaces,” is obscene.
I mean, the entire reason I love opera is because of Leontyne Price. My mother played recordings of her over and over when I was small and I absolutely fell in love with her. I wanted to have her style and sing her roles and when I looked at her pictures as a little girl I genuinely thought she was an actual queen. One of the most tragic moments of my young life was when I realized it would be highly inappropriate for me to play Bess. When I was older my mother told me about what she faced. Absolutely appalling. Sorrynotsorry but you don’t ask royalty to stay in the barn.
I hope you keep on keeping on in classical music because I’m sure you’re inspiring other musicians just like Price inspired me and you’re clearly accomplished yourself. I so often regret not properly pursuing music and you have and that’s just so wonderful. The one thing they can’t take from you is your talent. I just really wish white people would know history a bit better and understand that classical music as it is today in particular is defined in large part by black musicians.
Every time I hear about stuff like this I’m shocked but never surprised. (I love Fleming too. She’s amazeballs.)