Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) Weekend B.O. Sept. 12-14 (Will 'No Good Deed's' Success Help Make Taraji P. Henson an A-lister?) Weekend B.O. Sept. 12-14 (Will 'No Good Deed's' Success Help Make Taraji P. Henson an A-lister?) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) TIFF 2014 Review: 'Top Five' is Chris Rock's Funniest Movie in Years - If Not Ever TIFF 2014 Review: 'Top Five' is Chris Rock's Funniest Movie in Years - If Not Ever What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? Taraji P. Henson Executive Produces Indie ‘Seasons of Love’ (Appears Alongside Gladys Knight, LeToya Luckett) Taraji P. Henson Executive Produces Indie ‘Seasons of Love’ (Appears Alongside Gladys Knight, LeToya Luckett) TV: New Corrections Officer for 'Orange, Another ABC Drama for Shonda Rhimes, SNL's 1st Black 'Weekend Update' Anchor TV: New Corrections Officer for 'Orange, Another ABC Drama for Shonda Rhimes, SNL's 1st Black 'Weekend Update' Anchor 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) Watch First Episode of ABC's New Series 'Black-ish' Now Watch First Episode of ABC's New Series 'Black-ish' Now It's a Done Deal - Paramount Pictures Will Distribute Chris Rock's 'Top Five' Worldwide It's a Done Deal - Paramount Pictures Will Distribute Chris Rock's 'Top Five' Worldwide Black Kids from Ferguson Speak Out in 'Hey White People' Comedic Video Educating Whites on Racism Black Kids from Ferguson Speak Out in 'Hey White People' Comedic Video Educating Whites on Racism 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

The OTHER Black 'Carmen' Film

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act March 7, 2013 at 11:31PM

And NO, I'm NOT talking about Beyonce in Carmen: A Hip-Hopera.
15
Grace Bumbry

And NO, I'm NOT talking about Beyonce in Carmen: A Hip-Hopera.

I'm talking about Grace Bumbry who could sing rings around Beyonce (And don't get upset, That's a fact).

So, following up on my piece yesterday about Carmen Jones coming out later this year on blu-ray DVD, it got me to thinking about Bumbry, who starred in a film version of George Bizet's original French opera back in 1967.

A St. Louis native Bumbry, who, now at age 76, is still very active and living in Austria, was, in the 60's and 70's, one of the truly great operatic mezzo sopranos of her day. And like her peer Leontyne Price, broke down many barriers. 

For example, back in the early 60's, she sang the role of Venus in Wagner's opera Tannhauser at Bayreuth (the home and shrine to Wagner which holds an opera festival, performing only his operas every summer). It was, to put it mildly, a scandal. How dare a black woman play the role of Venus, to which the director of the production said: "Show me anyone who can sing it better and I'll hire her". 

No one did.

Then, in '67, Bumbry played the role of Carmen for a film version directed by the legendary conductor Herbert Von Karajan, with the Vienna Philharmonic, who, at this time, started making films of his opera and symphony performances. 

Once again there was shock and horror that a black woman played the role of Carmen. Dorothy Dandridge (whose singing voice in Carmen Jones was dubbed by a young 18 year old white girl named  Marilyn Horne, who also went on the become one of greatest opera singers ever) was one thing; but this was something else. And, once again, everyone kept heir mouths shut when they heard Bumbry sing. 

Interestingly, Karajan, with the same Vienna PO, three years earlier, recorded for RCA a performance of Carmen with Leontyne Price, which is considered one of the greatest recordings ever of the work.

So why didn't Karajan use Price for the film version? I suspect most likely because Price was too majestic, too regal a figure to convincingly play...how shall we say...a loose woman such as Carmen, on the screen. Bumbry however had an earthly sensuality that was perfect for the role.

Just take a look: 


Shadow & ActNewsletter