Monday, July 28, 2014

Speight Jenkins Cites Hiring African-American Men As Achievement

Ringmaster: Jenkins in Seattle
"Speight Jenkins is stepping down as general director of Seattle Opera after 31 years. And among the things he’s most proud of are the productions of two successful Ring cycles, surviving the economic recession by not resorting to just producing popular operas and advancing the opportunities for African-American men. 'When Leontyne Price came to the Met Opera in 1961, it ended the problem of black women in opera. But it didn’t end the problem for black men,' Jenkins said. 'When I came to Seattle, it was still the case of black men with great voices not appearing. I think people were afraid, and I was convinced that opera should be colorblind.' Jenkins says he takes satisfaction in bringing talented African-American and Asian-American singers to local audiences over the past three decades. And he’s proud of the role the opera has had in grooming young talent. One of the most notable examples is tenor Lawrence Brownlee, who came through Seattle Opera's Young Artists Program. Jenkins says he never heard a single complaint from Seattle audiences about his casting decisions. And he predicts the ranks will continue to become increasingly racially diverse with a wave of talent coming from China." [Source]

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