TULSA, okla. (AP) – Tulsa Opera canceled a piece written for a concert about the city’s racing massacre in 1921 after the composer turned down one of four pieces for the event to remove a curse on America from the piece .
In social media posts, New York composer Daniel Roumain said he was hired on Sunday to write one of four librettos for mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves for a “Greenwood Overcomes” concert to be performed on May 1st by the Tulsa Opera should be listed.
Roumain shrank back, however, when Graves, who is black, protested in his libretto “They still want to kill us” against the last line after the line “God Bless America” - “God Damn America” - and the opera officials wanted it changed.
“As a black woman, I am a huge supporter of all black lives, black expression and creativity,” Graves said in a statement from the opera. “I don’t have any problems with strong writing, but I felt that it wasn’t consistent with my personal values. I couldn’t find an honest place to express the lyrics as they were presented. “
Tobias Picker, the opera’s creative director, suggested leaving out the word ‘damn’. I declined, explaining that is how I felt about that county, “Roumains said in a Facebook post about Tulsa County.” So they fired me. “
In a statement from an opera spokeswoman, Picker said: “It is extremely disappointing that Mr Roumain has turned an artistic disagreement into a racist debate.
The opera “Denyce Graves and all the other 22 black composers and eight black artists as well as our concert co-host, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, are committed to the spirit of the” Greenwood Overcomes “concert,” said Picker.
Kelli Bruer, the opera’s spokeswoman, said Roumain will receive his $ 1,500 fee, but the opera will not perform his play. Roumain still owns the play and can have it performed elsewhere, she said.