Chicago Musicians Working to Produce Full Opera Set in Civil Rights Era

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Something quite remarkable is happening in Chicago. Equal parts drama, music, history, and social activism, it’s The March: A Civil Rights Opera, a project currently in development by librettist Alan Marshall and composer Jonathan Stinson.

While still seeking a commission from an opera company, they are developing their own production and presenting excerpts to help raise funds and foster awareness of the project. We attended one of these events at the Chicago Temple on September 29, 2012, which featured excerpts from The March accompanied by a nine-piece chamber ensemble.

Prior to the opera selections, they presented Mass Meeting 2.0, a dramatization of such meetings held during the height of the U.S. civil rights movement, which was effective in setting the stage for the opera. After attending the event, we also had the opportunity to talk at some length with both Marshall and Stinson.

Explaining his zeal for the project, Marshall says “I am producing this opera to celebrate a seminal moment in American history and the struggle for racial equality and social justice, and, equally important, to provide leading role opportunities for highly-trained African American opera singers.”

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