On the front page of the February 4, 2024 Miami Herald, an important and moving article highlighting two leading artists and Florida Grand Opera was published. Linda Robertson and Carl Juste‘s article,
“Their voices made me cry.’ How two Black singers are breaking barriers at Miami opera,” explores the space that tenor Limmie Pulliam and soprano Kearstin Piper Brown occupy as Black opera stars, their experiences as they continue their journeys to greater and greater success, and Florida Grand Opera’s part in helping destroy barriers to opera as an artistic medium that everyone can enjoy as well as an industry that embraces diversity and inclusion.
As Florida’s oldest performing arts organization, FGO has a track record for diversity. And while it leaves plenty of room for improvement, FGO’s commitment to DEI (Diverstiy, Equity, and Inclusion) is more than just lip service. From 1966, when founder Arturo Di Filippi invited boxing legend Mohammed Ali to play the Captain of the Guard in Aida, to the 70s and 80s when Metropolitan Opera diva Martina Arroyo appeared in productions of Il trovatore and Aida; to conductor Willie Anthony Water’s seven-year reign as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor; to composer and conductor Michael Ching‘s tenure as principal coach, chorus master, and music staff in the early 90s; to the nearly all-Black cast of the 2022-23 season’s Agrippina headed by conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson; to former Chief Development Officer Victor Kendall; to conductor Marlon Daniel’s appointment as Associate Conductor — FGO enjoys a long history of supporting artists of color.
Still, there is work to be done. Florida Grand Opera is grateful to Linda Robertson, Carl Juste, Limmie Pulliam, Kearstin Piper Brown, and the Miami Herald for shining a spotlight on this vital conversation.
See Limmie and Kearstin, along with the rest of the amazing Pagliacci cast, on February 8 and 10 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets at fgo.org.