Broadway star Sierra Boggess has withdrawn from the role of Maria in the BBC Proms concert of West Side Story in order she says, to give more opportunity to singers of Latin origin.
Here’s what she writes:
‘Last week, it was announced that I will be singing in a concert of West Side Story at Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms in London. Because it was a concert presentation and not the show proper — I had signed on to lend my voice to honor Leonard Bernstein in his centennial this year, with an orchestra I have loved singing with for years, following in the long list of sopranos who have all sung the score before me.
‘After much reflection, I’ve realized that if I were to do this concert, it would once again deny Latinas the opportunity to sing this score, as well as deny the IMPORTANCE of seeing themselves represented onstage. And that would be a huge mistake. Since the announcement of this concert, I have had many conversations about why this is a crucial time, now more than ever, to not perpetuate the miscasting of this show. I apologize for not coming to this realization sooner and as an artist, I must ask myself how I can best serve the world, and in this case my choice is clearer than ever: to step aside and allow an opportunity to correct a wrong that has been done for years with this show in particular. I have therefore withdrawn myself from this concert and I look forward to continuing to be a voice for change in our community and our world!’
What on earth would Lenny have made of that?
And why did the BBC go to a Broadway star when there are so many fine Marias close to home?
UPDATE: If Maria has to be Latina…