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2011 - 96th Annual Convention Words: 200 words || 
1. Toppin, Louise. "Black Composers of Operas on Slavery" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA, <Not Available>. 2019-06-27 <>
Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: The lineage of Black opera composers traces back to such composers as Chevalier de Saint Georges (Ernestine), Samuel Coleridge Taylor (Dream Lovers) and Scott Joplin (Treemonisha). As would be expected from works that are chronologically juxtaposed to the era of slavery, these works are devoid of slavery references. Instead these composers wrote European style operas depicting strong female characters whose function was primarily to elevate the black race. While not considered standard repertoire, these operas have garnered some attention and Treemonisha enjoys frequent performances by moderate level opera companies. In the 20th century, the African American composers, who no longer feel the stigma of slavery, turn to this subject for inspiration. These works that strive to tell the stories from this era have received few performances by established opera companies. This paper will examine the treatment of the topic slavery in operas by African American composers beginning with early twentieth-century composer Charles Cameron White (Ouanga), and discussing more recent works such as Leslie Adams (Blake), Adolphus Hailstork (Common Ground), Nkeiru Okoye (Harriet Tubman), Richard Thompson (Paul Lawrence Dunbar), Valerie Capers (A Woman Called Moses), Anthony Davis’ (Amistad) and William Grant Still (Troubled Island).

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