Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

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lennygoran
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Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:47 am

Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation, which gives prestigious awards to young singers, removed Richard Tucker’s son from its board.

By Sarah Bahr

July 20, 2020

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation, which grants prestigious awards to young singers, removed David N. Tucker from its board of directors on Monday evening. Mr. Tucker, a son of the distinguished tenor for whom the foundation is named, was removed after an uproar over racially charged comments that he made on a Black singer’s Facebook page.

“The Richard Tucker Music Foundation condemns the hurtful and offensive comments made by one of our board members, David Tucker,” Jeffrey Manocherian, the foundation’s chairman, and Barry Tucker, its president and another of Richard Tucker’s sons, said in a statement.

On Saturday, Julia Bullock, a Black soprano, shared a Washington Post story on her Facebook page that quoted protesters in Portland, Ore., who said they had been detained by federal officers in unmarked vans. In response, Mr. Tucker commented, “Good. Get rid of these thugs and I don’t care where you send them. They are a Pox on our society.”

In another comment, he wrote, “About time someone tough will try to crush the mob before they destroy and kill more innocent people. Bravo to Trump to send in Federal troops.”

When Russell Thomas, a Black tenor, replied in a comment that the Tucker Foundation had given its top prize, the Richard Tucker Award, to only one Black artist since it was first granted in 1978, Mr. Tucker wrote that “pulling the race card is another convenient excuse to modify excellent standards of vocal artistry.”

A spokeswoman for the foundation said on Monday that while there had been a single Black winner of the Tucker Award — Lawrence Brownlee, in 2006 — the foundation had awarded a dozen smaller career and study grants to Black artists over the past decade.


Mr. Brownlee called Mr. Tucker’s comments “racist” and “deeply disappointing” in a Facebook post on Monday. He said that while he was the only Black artist to have received the prize, there were many other Black singers whose talent would have made them worthy recipients.

The Black Opera Alliance, an organization founded last month that aims to expose racial inequity in opera, wrote an open letter to the foundation’s board on Sunday calling for Mr. Tucker’s removal.

“We are deeply disturbed,” Derrell Acon, the founder of the group and the director of engagement and equity at Long Beach Opera in California, wrote in the letter, to which other members of the group also contributed. “It is impossible for someone who holds these views to contribute productively to any organization that seeks to cultivate a culture of respect, equity and justice.”


The group called for the foundation to publicly condemn Mr. Tucker’s comments, to do more to combat potential racial bias in its leadership and to embrace Black performers.

Since the letter was published, several past winners of the foundation’s top prize also condemned Mr. Tucker’s comments and called for his removal.

Last year’s winner, the soprano Lisette Oropesa, tweeted on Sunday evening that Mr. Tucker’s comments were “disappointing” and “racist.” The mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who won the 2002 prize and currently serves on the foundation’s board, tweeted on Monday that she had told the foundation that she could not continue to serve unless it removed Mr. Tucker.

The mezzo Stephanie Blythe, who won the award in 1999, wrote on Facebook on Monday that she was “horrified” by Mr. Tucker’s comments, and also called for his removal. “These statements were not some spur of the moment, off the cuff comments,” she wrote. “They were full of indoctrinated hate.”

Mr. Acon said in an interview that his goal in forming the Black Opera Alliance was to empower Black singers and administrators to speak out against injustice in the industry. “We don’t want to allow the system to just absorb injustice and for it to become yesterday’s news,” he said. “We want to put companies and institutions to task and make sure they respond in an equitable way.”

Mr. Tucker’s removal comes amid a broader reckoning in the opera world over the lack of diversity in classical music. A New York Times story published last week revealed that the Metropolitan Opera has only three Black managing directors on its 45-member board, and just two Black members of its 90-person orchestra. The Met has not presented an opera by a Black composer in its 137-year history.



https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/arts ... black.html

Modernistfan
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by Modernistfan » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:41 am

It's time for the Met to present William Grant Still's "Troubled Island," which had been premiered by the New York City Opera in 1949. Other alternatives might be some of the operas of Anthony Davis, including "X," "Tania," and "Amistad," all of which have been recorded. If they wanted to really think outside the box, they could present some of the operas of Anthony Braxton.

barney
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by barney » Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:21 am

Modernistfan wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:41 am
It's time for the Met to present William Grant Still's "Troubled Island," which had been premiered by the New York City Opera in 1949. Other alternatives might be some of the operas of Anthony Davis, including "X," "Tania," and "Amistad," all of which have been recorded. If they wanted to really think outside the box, they could present some of the operas of Anthony Braxton.
I'd just like the Met to present opera! :) But I would certainly be interested in any of the operas you list. I enjoyed the Still posted on the other thread.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by maestrob » Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:26 pm

Good move by the Tucker Foundation, and by Joyce DiDonato and Stephanie Blythe. David Tucker's comments were extremely hurtful and damaging to the Foundation's reputation.

That said, I must defend the Tucker Foundation because of one incident. IIRC, in 2001 or 2002, Aprile Millo was scheduled to appear as Aida in the Foundation's gala in (then) Avery Fisher Hall. Millo cancelled at the very last minute because her high C was unreliable that night (or so I was told), and the call went out to the audience to find a replacement. One of my recent winners, who had coached parts of the role with me and performed Tosca with Vincent La Selva in Central Park and had sung the very scene from Aida that the Foundation was presenting that evening with La Selva in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, Lisa Daltirus, a Black soprano from Philadelphia who had made her professional debut under Leonard Bernstein's baton as a lyric soprano, stepped forward and was chosen to replace Millo , made a stunning debut in the triumphal scene. Daltirus went on to have a fine career around the world, although she never sang at the MET.

Lisa had given up singing briefly to give birth to a lovely daughter after her brief start to a career. with Bernstein, also in Carnegie Hall, IIRC. Thus, when I introduced her to La Selva after she won my competition in Carnegie Hall, the Maestro got the ball rolling for her again and, luckily, she was in Avery Fisher Hall the night of Millo's cancellation, and a great singer was re-launched, thanks to our combined efforts. Daltirus also appeared soon after with David Zinman in Aspen as Tosca, among other appearances that followed.

And yes, I brought her into the recording studio the year she won with me, and recorded her singing her very first aria from Aida (O patria mia...) and Korngold's most gorgeous aria from Die tote Stadt, "Guck das mir verblieb..." which, as fans know was originally a duet with tenor in the full score, but was later arranged by Korngold as a solo piece.

Ah, memories!.

lennygoran
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:41 pm

maestrob wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:26 pm
Ah, memories!.
Brian great story-I wasn't familiar with her but she's on youtube-for example Tosca! Regards, Len

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=t4nPW-bd0dw

Modernistfan
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by Modernistfan » Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:49 pm

According to one database, she did sing at the Met in 2018 in Strauss's "Elektra," albeit in an extremely minor role. I do have to wonder why she did not appear regularly at the Met. Have any African-American conductors, other than Henry Lewis ("Mr. Marilyn Horne" at the time) ever appeared at the Met?
Last edited by Modernistfan on Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by Lance » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:18 pm

Incredible and sorrowful comments to read by David N. Tucker.
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maestrob
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:22 am

Modernistfan wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:49 pm
According to one database, she did sing at the Met in 2018 in Strauss's "Elektra," albeit in an extremely minor role. I do have to wonder why she did not appear regularly at the Met. Have any African-American conductors, other than Henry Lewis ("Mr. Marilyn Horne" at the time) ever appeared at the Met?
Thanks: I wasn't aware of that! Many truly excellent singers are engaged by the MET in minor roles, then sing leads in fine careers elsewhere. Why Lisa never sang a major role there is a mystery to me, as Levine, despite his many flaws, encouraged more than a few Black artists. I can only suggest that she was so occupied with lead roles elsewhere that she was put off by the small offers she received from Lincoln Center. That happened to several singers I worked with back when. Sad that Lisa never established a recording career. I've kept track of her on youtube over the years, of course!

As for the Tucker Foundation, I do hope that they will continue to encourage minority talent as did my own judges when they gave Lisa Daltirus awards two years in a row in Carnegie Hall.

absinthe
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by absinthe » Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:57 am

So much for freedom of speech. I find nothing wrong in expressing an opinion provided it doesn't disadvantage anyone directly. Many people are racist but keep quiet about it. Open debate is silenced before it's even started and it's truly needed but no one dares start it. We in the UK have seen the effect in places like Rotherham where police were too frightened to deal with grooming gangs lest they were branded racist. This recent protest movement is causing more resentment than was ever before. Enough black people have spoken out against it claiming the harassment and abuse has increased.
When it comes to music and opera, anyone can get in if they try hard enough. Leontyne Price has been a favourite of mine for years ever since I heard her do Barber's Knoxville. Lena Horne did well enough. What about Gweneth-Ann Rand? Have you ever heard such a beautiful Harawi?
.
The question is also about roles. Are there roles for these people? Perhaps it's time pressure was applied to mount more black Opera. Porgy and Bess did brilliantly as a film. Why not more? Where's Delius' Koanga? Perhaps it's time someone stood up for black composers to get their theatrical work funded.
.
One thing's for sure: the token attitude creeping into the arts - that minorities must be allowed in merely for representation, not on merit, will turn it into mediocity.
.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by barney » Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:42 am

Barney stated:
"And I'm afraid that it's simply not true that anyone can get in if they try hard enough. To take a non-racial example, it was notorious that you had to get on with Isaac Stern if you wanted a successful solo violin career in the US. Sometimes it's simply a matter of influence or luck and sometimes there certainly are systemic obstacles."

I personally know of two — maybe three — where this is absolutely true about Mr. Stern, whom I otherwise rate as one of the great violinists of all time. Without naming names, at least one of them went on to establish a career successfully without the help of Stern. Politics in music lurks all around even in the arts.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by slofstra » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:56 pm

absinthe wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:57 am
So much for freedom of speech. I find nothing wrong in expressing an opinion provided it doesn't disadvantage anyone directly. Many people are racist but keep quiet about it. Open debate is silenced before it's even started and it's truly needed but no one dares start it. We in the UK have seen the effect in places like Rotherham where police were too frightened to deal with grooming gangs lest they were branded racist. This recent protest movement is causing more resentment than was ever before. Enough black people have spoken out against it claiming the harassment and abuse has increased.
When it comes to music and opera, anyone can get in if they try hard enough. Leontyne Price has been a favourite of mine for years ever since I heard her do Barber's Knoxville. Lena Horne did well enough. What about Gweneth-Ann Rand? Have you ever heard such a beautiful Harawi?
.
The question is also about roles. Are there roles for these people? Perhaps it's time pressure was applied to mount more black Opera. Porgy and Bess did brilliantly as a film. Why not more? Where's Delius' Koanga? Perhaps it's time someone stood up for black composers to get their theatrical work funded.
.
One thing's for sure: the token attitude creeping into the arts - that minorities must be allowed in merely for representation, not on merit, will turn it into mediocity.
.
I did just see Porgy and Bess in March or February in a Met simulcast, just before COVID shut everything down. It was one of the better things I have ever seen. As far as "anyone getting in", Porgy only resulted through the advocacy and support of someone at the Met, but the Met could not stage it due to segregation. Here, I'm recounting what I heard in interview at the performance so accuracy may be slightly off. In trying to corroborate this, I learned that the first racially integrated audience at the National Theatre in Washington was the result of demands by the Porgy and Bess cast for a performance there. I suppose that blacks weren't going to get to even see the opera/ musical!
Overt barriers no longer exist, but systemic ones certainly do. Given the black contribution to music over the decades I don't see how greater representation will hurt the music in any way.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by Lance » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:46 pm

Barney stated: "And I'm afraid that it's simply not true that anyone can get in if they try hard enough. To take a non-racial example, it was notorious that you had to get on with Isaac Stern if you wanted a successful solo violin career in the US. Sometimes it's simply a matter of influence or luck and sometimes there certainly are systemic obstacles."

I personally know of two — maybe three — whose careers were negatively affected by Stern who was a powerful man in the music business. While I hold Stern in the highest esteem for his music-making and accomplishments, at least one of these now great violinists was able to establish a grand career without any help from Stern. Politics lurks in the arts and is all around us in just about everything. In my own meeting with Stern and his pianist (Zakin) was cordial and warm in every way. But I do not play the violin: i just love the music it makes!
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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barney
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by barney » Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:20 pm

Lance wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:46 pm
Barney stated: "And I'm afraid that it's simply not true that anyone can get in if they try hard enough. To take a non-racial example, it was notorious that you had to get on with Isaac Stern if you wanted a successful solo violin career in the US. Sometimes it's simply a matter of influence or luck and sometimes there certainly are systemic obstacles."

I personally know of two — maybe three — whose careers were negatively affected by Stern who was a powerful man in the music business. While I hold Stern in the highest esteem for his music-making and accomplishments, at least one of these now great violinists was able to establish a grand career without any help from Stern. Politics lurks in the arts and is all around us in just about everything. In my own meeting with Stern and his pianist (Zakin) was cordial and warm in every way. But I do not play the violin: i just love the music it makes!
I have no doubt that he was a delightful man, Lance. Nor do I doubt that Stern saw himself as a patron and mentor, a helper, not a hindrance, and that his motives were generally for the good of violinists and of music. And doubtless that was often or usually true. But it was bad luck if you failed to impress - I think it is acknowledged that he had too much influence

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by diegobueno » Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:48 am

You have freedom of speech, but not freedom from the consequences of your speech. Ask the Dixie Chicks (now the Chicks). Anyone with a high public profile, or representative of an organization with a high public profile has the added burden of needing to moderate their speech, since anything they say is likely to be associated with whatever organization they represent. David N. Tucker didn't understand that, and he suffered the consequences.
Black lives matter.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by maestrob » Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:11 am

diegobueno wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:48 am
You have freedom of speech, but not freedom from the consequences of your speech. Ask the Dixie Chicks (now the Chicks). Anyone with a high public profile, or representative of an organization with a high public profile has the added burden of needing to moderate their speech, since anything they say is likely to be associated with whatever organization they represent. David N. Tucker didn't understand that, and he suffered the consequences.
Well said, Mark. Thank-you. As for the Dixie Chicks, you could say the same about Bill Maher, whose Politically Incorrect talk show was canceled by a network I will not name due to White House opposition.

But that's a topic for another forum, so I'll stop now. :roll:

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by slofstra » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:12 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:48 am
You have freedom of speech, but not freedom from the consequences of your speech. Ask the Dixie Chicks (now the Chicks). Anyone with a high public profile, or representative of an organization with a high public profile has the added burden of needing to moderate their speech, since anything they say is likely to be associated with whatever organization they represent. David N. Tucker didn't understand that, and he suffered the consequences.
In the case of the Chicks, this was most unfortunate. They criticized GWB for the Iraqi war effort, and received widespread death threats on tour dates across the American South. Tell me, what musician ever, worth their salt, hasn't criticized military aggression? Okay, forget Fuertwangler. Who else?
In 2016, I attended a folk festival and every performer there criticized Donald Trump. Did that make a difference? Apparently, not enough people listen to the political advice of musicians! That has to change.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by absinthe » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:39 pm

One of the posts that really touched the point has been edited. Freedom of Speech, you lot? First Amendment?

I think I have to go. As I said, open debate is silenced at the first stroke.

barney
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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by barney » Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:37 am

What has happened? What has been removed? I haven't been following this closely, but I have not found Lance to be a lurking censor.
If Absinthe has been censored, may we request an explanation? Generally we disagree pretty well on this site.

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Re: Opera Foundation Removes Trustee for Racially Charged Comments

Post by slofstra » Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:42 pm

absinthe wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:39 pm
One of the posts that really touched the point has been edited. Freedom of Speech, you lot? First Amendment?

I think I have to go. As I said, open debate is silenced at the first stroke.
Are you quite sure? I looked at your post, and I had quoted it. My quote on August 3rd and your post as of today are identical. If anything happened it was prior to August 3. The only thing I've ever seen Lance do is to delete a thread in its entirety, and not for what was said, but how.

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