Every Voice with Terrance McKnight — Episode 3
The first season of the podcast examines the representation of Blackness in opera
New York’s classical music station WQXR recently launched its new podcast Every Voice with Terrance McKnight. This 16-part podcast series is hosted by writer, curator, pianist, and WQXR weekday evening host Terrance McKnight.
In it, McKnight explores marginalized voices, histories, and perspectives within the Western classical music tradition, with a focus on Black representation in opera.
Specifically, McKnight examines Black characters in the works of Mozart and Verdi – both of whom were writing these roles during the time of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. Those characters are then put side by side with the works of contemporary Atlanta-based composer Dr. Sharon Willis, who writes authentic operatic roles of African-American historical figures.
"In Mozart's 'The Magic Flute,' Monostatos is smitten by the white princess Pamina, whom he is supposed to be guarding under the orders of the high priest Sarastro. His desire to love and belong is the source of anguish, as he feels unworthy of Pamina due to his race and enslaved status. Rather than serve as a commentary on the harsh racial realities of 18th century society, Monostatos instead serves as the comic relief of the opera, embodying the loud, threatening, and childish caricature which became the template for American minstrelsy."
Every Voice with Terrance McKnight