Black History Month and opera

The New Orleans Opera has had the privilege of performing with some of the most talented and accomplished opera singers in the world, including a number of black opera singers. In conjunction with Black History Month, following are a few of the illustrious singers of color who have performed with the NOOA.

Verrett_NOOA_B40_F13_003

Native New Orleanian Shirley Verrett (pictured here in a 1983 NOOA performance of Tosca) filled in as Carmen for the NOOA in 1980, making her the first black singer to perform the role with NOOA. She had previously been the first black singer to perform the role at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

1996_Alfred-Walker_DieFledermaus

Bass-baritone Alfred Walker has become an international superstar since he graduated from Loyola’s master’s program in 1996. Walker won the Regional Metropolitan Opera Council Audition and made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette in 1998. He has performed with NOOA in Macbeth and Elektra (1994); Madama Butterfly (1995); Andrea Chénier (1996); Rigoletto (1997); and La Bohème (2014). He is pictured above in Loyola’s 1996 performance of Die Fledermaus.

2010_Givonna-Joseph-Hope-Briggs-and-Aria-Mason_Porgy-and-Bess

Another Loyola alum, Giovanna Joseph, has performed supporting roles in Salome and Porgy and Bess with NOOA. In 2011, Joseph founded Opera Creole, a nonprofit company dedicated to discovering and performing music written by nineteenth century New Orleans Creole men and women of color. She is pictured above (left) with her daughter Aria Mason (right) and singer Hope Briggs (middle) in NOOA’s 2010 Porgy and Bess; this performance marks the first time a mother and daughter both had singing roles in the same NOOA production (image courtesy of Givonna Joseph).

NOOA_B31F4_1981_Ballo_Debria-Brown

Mezzo-soprano Débria Brown was another trailblazing New Orleans native who battled prejudice to become an international opera star. Brown graduated from Xavier University and began her professional career with the New York City Opera opposite Loyola alum and fellow New Orleanian Norman Treigle. She later achieved success singing in Germany and Vienna before becoming a professor of voice at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Brown performed with NOOA in Un Ballo in Maschera (pictured above in 1981) and Eugene Onegin (1995).

NOOA_B51F8_Salome_Marquita-Lister

Opera soprano Marquita Lister performed two of her signature roles in Porgy and Bess and Salome with NOOA in 2002. Lister has also served as the national spokesperson for the Negro “Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation.

A large portion of the New Orleans Opera Association Archives are Artists’ Files. These include head shots, press kits, and correspondence, in many cases sent by artist management companies, for artists who performed with NOOA as well as many who didn’t. These files contain beautiful graphic materials for  some of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, including many of the world’s leading black singers.

NOOA_BF11_LaVergne-Monette

LaVergne Monette

NOOA_B17F35_Barbara-Hendricks

Barbara Hendricks

NOOA_B15F8_Simon-Estes

Simon Estes

NOOA_B12F10_Barbara-Conrad_002
NOOA_B12F10_Barbara-Conrad_001

Barbara Conrad

NOOA_B12F6_Vinson-Cole

Vinson Cole

NOOA_B10F14_Grace-Bumbry

Grace Bumbry

NOOA_B6F20_Betty-Allen_001
NOOA_B6F20_Betty-Allen_002

Betty Allen

NOOA_B6F11_Donnie-Ray-Albert

Donnie Ray Albert

Many if not all of these singers faced intense racial prejudice in establishing the rights of black singers to perform with regional, national, and international opera companies. Alison Kinney’s “As the Met Abandons Blackface, a Look at the Legacy of African Americans in Opera” details struggles faced by black American opera singers as well as the use of white singers to portray black characters, as does Naomi Adele André’s Blackness in Opera (available for checkout from the Monroe Library).

The materials pictured above, and many more like them, are available for research in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives at Special Collections & Archives‘ Booth-Bricker Reading Room Monday – Friday from 9am-4:30pm.

A Night at the Opera

Todd-1Slider-768x270
On February 10th, at around 7:30 p.m., I walked into the Mahalia Jackson Theater. I gave the staff my ticket, and walked in. It seemed a little bland at first, but I got a a soda at the bar and made my way to my seat. It was in the center, in the middle of the large auditorium, so it was perfect. They called for the start at 7:55, and then, the curtains rose at around 8:10 after announcements. That’s when a man hobbled to the center of the stage, and started to break out into song about a demon barber.

The New Orleans Opera Association performed Sweeney Todd last weekend, and I had the chance to go see it. After scanning the pamphlets for months, I must admit, I was curious to see the opera for myself.

Although they missed out a chance to make it a dinner theater, it was still amazing. The voices were extremely talented, the set was wonderful, and how they managed to make blood spurt 10 feet into the air still confuses me. If anyone is not familiar with the story, I apologize. It is exactly what it sounds like. The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd, slit throats with a razor in order to fulfill his thirst for revenge. They inconspicuously managed to put a device on the victims and make blood spurt, even getting some on the orchestra, before making the chair seat drop and the body fell through the floor and into the basement, where they were ground up for meat pies. That thankfully was just props.  The show totaled up to 3 hours, with a 20 minute intermission, and it was 11 when I got out. Even though I was absolutely tired, ready to peel my makeup off and curl up in some blankets, I had such a wonderful time.

For anyone that hasn’t gone to see the New Orleans Opera, I highly recommend you go. They’re currently in their 74th year, so if there’s any year that you should go, it’s the next. They have numerous performances planned until then, so if you want to have a night of pure talent and have your mind blown, give them a visit!

We also have an exhibit on the New Orleans Opera Association in Special Collections & Archives and  pamphlets in our digital collections if you are curious to learn about their history.

-This blog was written by student worker Miranda

Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrating Black History Month

In his 1983 landmark study of national identity, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson writes that people are united by the fact that they’ve forgotten the same things. It is, Anderson asserts, the shared act of common remembering that draws people together (191-2). While there are many ways that we commemorate Black History Month, the library’s place as the repository of books and of memory itself positions it as a key site of imagined community for this shared remembering. In the interest of fostering such an act of communal memory, Monroe Library has assembled displays of our print and digital holdings in black history and culture in the United States.

Located at the LC desk, our print display features the work of black artists and thinkers from a wide range of disciplines: poetry, drama, music, fiction, visual arts, autobiography, and social commentary. We’ve assembled a chorus of voices, visions, and viewpoints that includes the earliest slave narratives, the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, the theater of the Black Arts movement, and the contemporary cultural critique of bell hooks and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Feel free to stop by and check out a book from our display. Or, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask a librarian.

If you’re interested in browsing our online, digital collections, be sure to check out our research guide – especially useful for class projects! The guide collects together a large range of digital materials on black culture, art, and history, including vintage and contemporary newspapers, print and electronic encyclopedias, ebooks, music, and movies.

- Victoria Elmwood

Work Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso, 2006.

Collection Spotlight: Norman Treigle Papers

In memoriam of the anniversary of Norman Treigle’s death on February 16th, 1975 we are spotlighting our Norman Treigle Papers collection.

Adanelle Wilfred (Norman) Treigle was born in New Orleans on March 6, 1927, the youngest of five children born to Wilfred and Claudia (Fischer) Treigle. His introduction to music was through his mother, who played both piano and organ, and his singing career began as a boy soprano in a church choir.

Determined to pursue a musical career, Treigle entered Loyola University where he studied with Elisabeth Wood for seven years. He won the New Orleans Opera House Auditions of the Air in 1947 and made his operatic debut with the company as the Duke of Verona in Roméo et Juliette. Over the next six years he developed a repertoire of twenty-two roles with the New Orleans Opera and studied both drama and ballet to prepare for his career as a singing actor. He sang solos at religious services of all denominations, performed with the New Orleans Pops and the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra, and hosted a radio show on WWL. According to his daughter Phyllis, the proprietors of WWL suggested that he change his name from “Addie” to a more professional stage name, and after studying various names, Treigle finally chose “Norman,” the name previously bestowed on his son.

Although only 5’11” and 140 pounds, Treigle had a voice that belied his size and a dazzling acting ability. He was known for his dominating portrayals of Reverend Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Grandpa Moss in Copland’s The Tender Land, Escamilio in Carmen and Mephistopheles in both Faust and Mephistofele as well the lead roles in Boris Gudonov, Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Gianni Schicchi. He and Beverly Sills often sang together in operas including Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Coq d’Or and Giulio Cesare that was produced to showcase Treigle in the City Opera’s premiere in new facilities at Lincoln Center in 1966.

Despite a vagabond career, he remained a New Orleanian. He and his second wife Linda lived near the lakefront with her daughter, Lisa, who Treigle adopted. His daughter Phyllis Susannah (born in 1961 and named after Phyllis Curtin, Treigle’s Susannah co-star) lived with her mother. He smoked constantly, drank Scotch, enjoyed wagering on the races at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, and was admired for his sense of humor and generosity.

On February 16, 1975, Treigle’s first wife, Loraine, found Treigle dead in his New Orleans apartment. The cause of death originally was thought to be result of a bleeding ulcer, but was later determined by the coroner to be an overdose of sleeping pills. Norman Treigle was forty-seven years old.

The Norman Treigle Papers consists of materials detailing the career and legacy of the opera singer. Press, programs, correspondence, contracts, photographs, costumes, and audio-visual materials are included in the collection. The bulk of the collection covers his years as a performer with some additional materials gathered after his death.

Treigle as Boito's Mefistofele

The collection is comprised of the following series:

Series I: Press & Programs

Series II: Correspondence

Series III: Contracts, Royalties & Financial

Series IV: Public Relations & Memorial Fund

Series V: Sheet Music –  Subseries I: Opera Scores – Subseries II: Oratorios and Cantatas – Subseries III: Art Songs & Popular Songs

Series VI: Educational Resources

Series VII: Photographs

Series VIII: Brian Morgan Research Files

Series IX: Scrapbooks & Oversized Publications

Series X: Audio-Visual Materials – Subseries I: Moving Images – Subseries II: Audio

Series XI: Costumes

You can view and research the Norman Treigle Papers Monday through Friday from 9-4:30 in the Special Collections & Archives of Monroe Library Loyola University New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Break

Even though Monroe Library is closed Saturday February 25th through Wednesday March 1st in celebration of Mardi Gras, that doesn’t mean you can’t do some learning about Fat Tuesday right here on our website.  Check out the links below to see some past blog posts about the colorful history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The library will re-open Thursday March 2nd and Friday March 3rd from 8am-6pm, and resume regular hours Saturday March 4th. We hope you have a wonderful and safe Mardi Gras season!

Blog posts about our Mardi Gras collections:

Mardi Gras at Loyola, 1983

The Colors of Carnival

How To Tuesday: King’s Cake Recipe

Mardi Gras Memories

Mardi Gras Literature

It’s Carnival Season!

Mardi Gras Coloring Pages

#ColorOurCollections

More Mardi Gras Archives

Collection Spotlight: Carnival

Welcome Back, Wolf Pack!

Happy Valentines Day! From LOYNO SCA!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

Thompson, Basil. Childhood Scrapbook, circa 1900. Basil Thompson Papers, Box 4 Folder 4, Special Collections and Archives, Loyola University New Orleans. http://cdm16313.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16313coll91, Louisiana Digital Library

Thompson, Basil. Childhood Scrapbook, circa 1900. Basil Thompson Papers, Box 4 Folder 4, Special Collections and Archives, Loyola University New Orleans. http://cdm16313.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16313coll91, Louisiana Digital Library

#ColorOurCollections recap

Today ends #ColorOurCollections, but you can download our coloring books anytime.

Excerpts from Mordecai Cubitt Cooke’s Rust, Smut, Mildew and Mold: An introduction to the study of microscopic fungi

Excerpts from the University Archives

Johann Gottlieb Mann’s Germany’s Wild Medicinal Plants

John Gould’s Birds of Great Britain

Mardi Gras Coloring Book

Need some inspiration? Check out our students’ fantastic coloring!

Comus_1910_001

Comus_1910_002

Fungi_Plate-I

Fungi_Plate-II

Fungi_Plate-IX

Fungi_Plate-VI

Proteus_1899_002

Protests Throughout Loyola’s History

Loyola University New Orleans is no stranger to the idea of protests. Over the years, students have participated in protests on campus, in New Orleans, and even in Washington, D.C. There have even been a few protests against Loyola at times.

In 2001, in the wake of 9/11, a group of Loyola students traveled to Washington D.C. (pictured above) “to represent Louisiana in an anti-war rally.” The editorial piece comments on – but is “neither condemning nor condoning” – the irony that the protesters were speaking against both the government and the United States as a whole, yet were seeking to prove how the attacks on September 11th had inspired the citizens to embrace patriotism.

Again in 2002, Loyola Law Professor William Quigley joined a small group of protesters on St. Charles Avenue against the “looming war on Iraq” shortly after returning from a trip to Iraq with the organization Voices in the Wilderness. He then had a panel discussing his trip and is quoted saying, “Seeing these people, I saw they are just like us.” He said that many of the people he spoke with on his trip were fearful of the upcoming war with the U.S.

Also in 2002, a group of about 100 protesters congregated outside of the Loyola University Law School campus to express their disapproval of Loyola’s invitation to Kim Gandy to speak on campus. Gandy, an alum of the Law School, was president of the National Organization for Women at the time and was vocal about her pro-choice stance on abortion.

In 2011, three Loyola students made their way to Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Life (pictured above). The Loyola Maroon newspaper featured an article voicing opinions of students on both sides of the issue. Margaret Liederbach was pro-life, but had some issues with parts of the movement as a whole, stating, “By restricting the movement to a religious – and primarily Christian context, we lose sight of the fundamental humanitarian issue at hand.” Ashley Nesbitt and Tori Buckley who take the pro-choice stance said, “The reasons a woman might choose abortion are endless; regardless, it is unfair for a single individual to decide whether abortion is the right decision for other women.”

Most recently, on January 21, 2017, people from all over the nation came together in Washington D.C. to protest President Donald Trump on the day after his inauguration. Several students from Loyola made the trip to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. The Loyola Maroon also published an opinion piece written by one of the students in attendance at the march, and Special Collections & Archives is collecting march-related materials.

These are just some of the times Loyola has been involved in protests, whether locally or nationally, throughout its history.

Written by student worker Samantha.

#ColorOurCollections Week with Identifying Microscopic Fungi

In celebration of #ColorOurCollections Week, we have been looking for some scans from the past that we thought might be fun to decolorize.

One such post from 2014 explores both a book and its author,  Mordecai Cubitt Cooke’s Rust, Smut, Mildew and Mold: an introduction to the study of microscopic fungi.

We were initially impressed by the illustrations… but after being made curious and conducting a little research… we found a man with a truly fascinating life!

Mordecai was a busy guy!

M.C. Cooke did not have much in the way of a formal education but wrote hundreds of articles and books on botany and mycology. Collected roughly 46,000 specimens, contributed over 20 years of service to museum collections while editing journals and founding societies.

Here are the original color plates and the decolorized ones for #ColorOurCollections week:

4final 3final

2final 1final

Mardi Gras Coloring Pages

We promised more Mardi Gras-related #ColorOurCollections, and here they are! The following coloring pages are from our New Orleans Carnival Collection (previously blogged about here and here).

Comus_1878

Comus 1878 Invitation

 

Comus_1910_001

Comus 1910 Invitation, folded

 

Comus_1910_002

 

Comus 1910 Invitation, unfolded

 

 

MG-Calendar_1968_001

1968 Mardi Gras Calendar cover

Momus_1891_001

1891 Momus Invitation

Momus_1878_002

Momus 1878 Invitation

Proteus_1899_001

Proteus 1899 Invitation, Side A

Proteus_1899_002

Proteus 1899 Invitation, Side B

Our students have been coloring away! Here’s some of their handiwork:

Read more about #ColourOurCollections and find our previous coloring books here.