Do you identify as any of these?

Do you identify as any of these?


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2019

message received:
OPERA America has just launched the IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) program.

IDEA Opera Grants are available to composer-librettist teams that identify as African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and/or Native American and have U.S. citizenship, permanent residence or DACA status. Applicants must be able to demonstrate their ability to create theatrical works for the trained voice and instrumental ensemble.



  • Nick says:

    DISGUSTING!! Identity politics in Music! Not one person is recognizable. A bunch of nobodies!!

    • Patrick says:

      Except that now these “nobodies” will be given the opportunity and encouraged to produce new works. This is win-win for everyone, composer/librettists and audience. Opportunity and new perspective.

      • Karl says:

        Isn’t it a lose-lose for white people? And also indigenous peoples of the Australian mainland. Why are they not included in the list? Shouldn’t people be getting grants on the basis of talent and not skin color or ethnic identity?

    • Hans-Dieter Glaubke says:

      “A bunch of nobodies!!”, to you, no doubt. Timothy Lees, former concert master for twenty years of the Cincinnati Symphony, is clearly recognizable, first on the left.

      • Patricia Yeiser says:

        Aha! “Former …..” And who but a keen observer of the Cincinnati Symphony would know that?

    • Frank says:

      We can always count on one of these posts to bait the would-be white supremacists in the classical audience. God forbid arts organizations try and even the playing-field that has favored white men for centuries.

      • John Rook says:

        It was created by, and has been supported by, white men since its inception. Isn’t it therefore understandable that that group has always been significantly represented?

        • Frank says:

          Of course, it’s understandable, but we live in a different world now. At the very least, if one cares about the health and survival of classical music, they should wish to see it represent a wider mix of people and perspectives. That’s why programs like the above are so important.

  • Ellingtonia says:

    So, if I am a white, ginger haired person of restricted growth but identify as an African I can legitimately apply for one of these grants?

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Should you really be like that or just identify yourself as such?

    Just thinking about the Hungarian solution to the Porgy & Bess demand…

  • Enigma Redoubt says:

    So who in this merry grouping will accrue the most points in the progressive stack?

  • John Borstlap says:

    I think there is some serious discrimination going-on here – I don’t see any blond Aryan type.

  • almaviva says:

    When will the far left realize that you can’t fix discrimination against certain groups by discriminating against other groups?

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Never. It’s what they live for – finding the next oppressed minority. Next – bring on the deaf bassist in a wheelchair.

    • Mr.Knowitall says:

      Affirmative action, such as the program mentioned here, assumes, correctly, that one class of people have been given a 100-meter head start in a 200-meter race. Letting people other than that privileged class move 50-meters forward gives the very best of them an outside chance of winning.

      • Enquiring Mind says:

        Why don’t we take all of the social workers and give them 30 IQ points so they can become physicists? It just doesn’t seem fair to you.

        • Mr.Knowitall says:

          If opportunities in society were based on intelligence alone, there would be no need for programs such as this.

  • Tom Moore says:

    Arabs, but not Jews.

  • Patricia Yeiser says:

    What a load of p.c. nonsense. This is as foolish – and useless – as ‘blind auditions.’ Either they can do the job or they can’t. Give it up.

  • Patricia Yeiser says:

    Now, if they can just find a black, female, ISIS terrorist, she’d be the first pick.

  • Karl says:

    It says it’s for people that IDENTIFY as African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and/or Native American. So could Elizabeth Warren apply? If there is no standard of proof then anyone can identify as anything they want to get what they want. Can’t they?

    And kudos for using the gender-neutral term Latinx. Very progressive!

  • Anna says:

    But when they have al women competitions thats fine…..

  • another white guy says:

    I suppose if you identify as a bitter old white guy, perhaps you might see a new opportunity for underrepresented communities within our field to mean a lack of an opportunity for everyone else (“everyone else,” of course, being the folks who have had a stranglehold on these opportunities for the past 300 years). And perhaps, if that was your worldview, you might be tempted to title your copy-pasted press-release “article” in a way that intentionally race-baits embittered white trolls.

    That NL does not see the need for programs like this reveals some unmistakable truths about his true moral priorities. Underneath all the faux-liberalism and virtue-signaling, we see that NL is not really here to support opportunities for people who don’t look like him. And we see his willingness to approve several comments on this thread that are blatantly racist (and leave them there, unchallenged).

    Let all who might be tempted to look towards NL for some semblance of moral authority carefully note the actions (and inactions) taken in this post.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Wholeheartedly disagreed with this comment.

      While it is obviously necessary policy to break down all kinds of unfair obstacles, also within music life, what we often see is that diversification strategies get a life of their own and bypass contents, turning into a moralistic witch hunt. Social engeneering stems form the idea that society can be constructed according to theory, but we know it can merely be improved here and there, if new unfairness is to be avoided.

      Any social engineering deserves a healthy dose of scepticism.

      • Another white guy says:

        “A moralistic witch hunt.” Who exactly is being hunted here? Is it the “blonde Aryan” composers you mention in your previous comment?

        Just take a moment to examine what you’re objecting to here. Is it a ban on all operas by white people? Because from where I stand, I see PLENTY of young white composers whose operas are being produced. They seem to be doing just fine with the opportunities that are presently available. So why isn’t there room to also try creating a few opportunities aimed at those who have had the deck stacked against them in our industry for the past 300 years? (Which, by the way, is also “social engineering”— do you only object to it when it benefits someone other than yourself?)

        • John Borstlap says:

          This comment offers a clear example of what I meant: the inaccessibility of music life for blacks, women, Chinese etc. etc. was not a form of social engineering, but the result of boundaries and characteristics of a culture, which had developed according to its own dynamics. That does not mean these dynamics were ‘right’, but that there was not some organizational, conscious idea or wished consensus to keep al those people out. Social engineering is a form of organizational planning.

      • Robert Groen says:


    • Ellingtonia says:

      Care to elucidate which comments are racist?

      • Another white guy says:

        “A bunch of nobodies”
        “Isn’t it a lose-lose for white people?”
        “Blond aryans are being seriously discriminated against”
        “Now if they can just find a black, female, ISIS terrorist, she’d be the first pick.”
        “There were some Aryan applicants but none of them were Queer. Gotta have a shtick!”

        Norman let all of these through without comment.

  • Karl says:

    Many studies have shown that affirmative action programs backfire. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas thinks affirmative action amounts to racial discrimination and is every bit as wrong as segregation or slavery. He said the stigmatizing effect of affirmative action put him at a huge disadvantage when he was trying to find work as a lawyer. He said people didn’t take him seriously because they thought he got special treatment.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed – that is the irony of the attempt. It seems to be more effective to fight against discrimination at the beginning of the develepmental trajectory: at the level of education, and offering support on that level for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. By the time people get into professional life, they may have acquired the skills necessary for everybody.