The Richard Tucker Music Foundation announced July 20 that it would remove David Tucker, the son of the organization’s eponymous opera singer, from its Board of Directors, effective immediately.
The decision was made after Tucker posted a series of racist and offensive comments on a July 18 Facebook post by Julia Bullock, a Black soprano. In response to Bullock sharing an article on the detainment of Black Lives Matter protestors in Portland, Oregon, Tucker wrote, “Get rid of these thugs and I don’t care where you send them. They are a Pox on our society.” The comment is still up and public as of 11 AM ET, July 21.
In subsequent comments, Tucker affirmed his position, writing, “Bravo to Trump to send in Federal troops,” “the police have been castrated by the Left,” and accusing another commenter, who had noted that only one Black singer has won the coveted Richard Tucker Award since its founding in 1978, of “pulling the race card [as] another convenient excuse.”
In response, Bullock asked Tucker to “not post untrue comments on my personal or professional page,” and, on July 18, called upon the Foundation to “open a discussion with your board and advisors about what culture you are looking to cultivate.”
The following day, the Foundation released a statement stating that the organization “remains committed to fostering equitable opportunities throughout our programs,” while industry professionals, including previous Richard Tucker Award winners and members of its board, called for his removal.
“I’ve informed the Foundation that I can no longer serve on the board unless he is removed and his comments denounced,” mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato tweeted. Soprano Lisette Oropesa, the most recent winner of the Award, wrote, “This [organization] supports American singers, yet has only awarded ONE black singer the big award in 39 years… Do Better RTMF!”
"The Richard Tucker Music Foundation condemns the hurtful and offensive comments made by one of our Board members, David Tucker," the Foundation posted to its Facebook page July 20. "David has been removed from the Richard Tucker Foundation Board of Directors, effective immediately. David's opinions do not align with the beliefs and mission of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, a Foundation built on the legacy of a Jewish-American singer who sought to bridge religious and cultural differences.
"The Foundation recognizes the need to find ways we can better apply core values of equality and inclusion across our organization and programs. We know that we can improve our auditions and awards process to create more equitable opportunities and increase diversity organization-wide. To this end, we are currently assembling a diversity advisory task force of artists and thought leaders to address these issues. We look forward to openly sharing our next steps and continuing to support the next generation of operatic talent." The statement was signed by Jeffrey Manocherian, Chairman, and Barry Tucker, President, Richard Tucker Music Foundation Board of Directors.
Tenor Lawrence Brownlee, the sole Black winner of the award (in 2006), called the language used by Tucker “painful, racist rhetoric,” and echoed Bullock’s call for a dialog around inclusivity and equity. Read his full post below.