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Sunday, May 22, 2011
by PopMatters Staff
by Daniel Bergner
The New York Times Magazine (19 May 2011)

“Imagine if there were an “American Idol” just for opera. Actually, there is…. Ryan Speedo Green stands almost six-foot-five and weighs 300 pounds and wears size 17 shoes, and on a Sunday afternoon in March he was running in place and doing jumping jacks as he waited in the wings of the Metropolitan Opera for his turn to sing. It was the semifinals of the most important operatic voice competition in America, and Ryan was seized by such anxiety that he felt his massive body vanishing. Seventeen of the 22 singers left in the contest had gone before him; to his ears their performances were spectacular. He was fighting off the feeling that he didn’t belong here. Ryan, who is African-American, grew up in low-income housing and a trailer park in southeastern Virginia. When he was 12, he spent time in juvenile detention for threatening his brother and mother. During high school he moved to a street of shacklike homes, with a drug dealer’s headquarters across from his family’s front door and with bullet holes from stray gunfire just above his mother’s bedroom window.”


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