William Grant Still Music
& The Master-Player Library
The true story of Troubled Island is finally told
Just Tell the Story: Troubled Island
Judith Anne Still and Lisa M. Headlee,
Noni Olabisi, Cover Mural
The Master-Player Library
603 pages, Hardback $39.95
In 1949, the first
grand opera by a person of Color to be mounted on a major American
stage was given its premiere by the New York City Center Opera Company.
After its first three nights of glory, including twenty-two curtain
calls on opening night, the opera was shut down, never to be staged
again. Why? What exactly happened to William Grant Still's opera, Troubled Island?
Just Tell the Story: Troubled Island presents
the fascinating story about this important political and social event
in history. It is a compelling and heart-wrenching saga that took place
during the Cold War of the late 1940s and 1950s. Eyewitness testimony of
those involved and who were directly affected by the wrong-doing as
well as from the wrong-doers illustrates a complex chronicle of events
before and after the production of this important American opera.
Just Tell the Story: Troubled Island presents the basic question: Was the fate of Still's opera, Troubled Island, the result of a racism, intrigue, and political maneuvering?
The volume does not ask readers to be swayed by tiresome speculations
from experts, and does not use partisan disclaimers, late-breaking
confessions, uninformed statements and undocumented opinions as methods
of propelling the story to an expected conclusion. The volume allows
informed observers to examine the subject of race, the arts and the
United States government objectively and to find the answers to the
tough questions for themselves.
In the pages of this unique and captivating work, Just Tell the Story provides
all of the significant documents that pertain to the opera, including
letters and diary entries by the composer and his family, defamatory
statements from prominent critics of the time, summaries of letters from
Langston Hughes, the Metropolitan Opera Company, the New York City Center, and the United States State Department,
and other documents published for the first time. Text by the editors
offers explanatory material for the ample documentation that is
The reader is told
the complete story of Troubled Island, and is given the means and the
incentive to discover first-hand how one of Americas greatest operas
came to its bitter end.
[Review by The Master-Player Library.]