Music: Porgy to Pagliacci

No Negro has ever sung or been invited to sing a principal role in the Metropolitan Opera. Even dark-skinned roles (Otello, Aïda and her father, the Ethiopian King, the African slaves in Meyerbeer's L'Africaine) have always been sung by whites. The staid Met says that its board welcomes "all operatically competent singers." By the Met's definition, those who would not make the grade include: Tenor Roland Hayes, Baritones Paul Robeson and Todd Duncan, Soprano Dorothy Maynor and Contralto Marian Anderson—five of the best voices in the U.S. or any country.

One of them,...

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