It’s 60 years ago tonight – January 7, 1955 – that Marian Anderson finally broke the Metropolitan Opera’s colour barrier.
We think now of American apartheid as belonging to the former slave-owning southern states. It didn’t. It existed, too, in the metropolitan heart of liberal New York.
Anderson, whose cause had been championed by no less than a president’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, had to wait until her late fifties to make her Met debut. On breakthrough night, she sang Ulrica, in Ballo in Maschera.
Too late for her, perhaps, but she broke the ice for others to follow.
NPR has a short feature, here.
Sixty years is not a long time. It’s within the living memory of many Met subscribers. The house should pause tonight to remember.