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Hidden History Episode 6

May 13 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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In the spring of 1957, Barbara Louise Smith was a 19-year-old African American music student in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas. A transfer student from historically black Prairie View A&M, Smith arrived in Austin in the fall of 1956 to study with Edra Gustafson, a well-regarded music professor. That fall, a faculty committee chose Smith—who many people said had the best soprano voice of anyone in her class—to play the female lead in Purcell’s opera, Dido and Aeneas. Based on Virgil’s “Aeneid,” the opera is a classic recounting of the tragic love between Dido, queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the Trojan prince. Because the committee had chosen two white men—David Blanton and David Richards—to play the role of Aeneas, the opera would have an interracial cast. The consequence of Smith was heartbreaking. How ironic the opening lines of the opera proved to be: “Oh my sorrow. I am possessed with torment. Peace and I are strangers grown.”

Photo Credit: Ms. Conrad just before entering the University of Texas in 1956. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History


Date: May 13
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event CategoriesMuseum, Speaker Series