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New York City Opera and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Collaborate in a Celebration of City Opera's Black History
 
Begins Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
(New York, New York, December 9, 2008) In honor of Black History Month, City Opera co-presents a three-part series, Black History at New York City Opera, with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The first program, “I’m on My Way”: Black History at City Opera on Wednesday, January 28, 2009, commemorates the rich African-American contributions to City Opera’s heritage and the great African-American works and artists who have graced City Opera's stage. Continuing with “One Fine Day”: A Tribute to Camilla Williams on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 and “Troubled Island”: 60th Anniversary Celebration on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, the programs feature discussion, live performance, special guests, historic slides and audio and video clips. All three events take place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City.
 
This collaboration with the Schomburg Center is a part of Opera Matters, City Opera’s series of lively, informal events combining conversation, media and live music to celebrate opera’s connections to the visual arts, film, literature, the mass media and pop culture, the African-American experience and the world at large. Curated by City Opera's dramaturg Cori Ellison, Opera Matters brings together prominent artists, scholars and celebrities from diverse artistic and cultural communities to reveal opera’s vital place in today’s cultural dialogue. Opera Matters is presented in partnership with other major New York cultural organizations including The Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Paley Center for Media.
 
"The Schomburg Center is pleased to collaborate with New York City Opera as it seeks to recognize and celebrate the African-American artists who have contributed significantly to New York City Opera and its history." - Howard Dodson, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
 
Tickets
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Tickets are priced at $10 each.
 
“I’m on My Way”: Black History at City Opera – Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 7:00 PM
New York City Opera partners with Harlem’s Opera Noire to spotlight the company’s proud history of nurturing African-American artists and works. The evening features live performances of excerpts from such works as Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Leroy Jenkins’s The Mother of Three Sons, Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, and Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison’s Margaret Garner, and discussion, as well as historical slides and recordings, with commentary by City Opera’s dramaturg Cori Ellison.
 
“One Fine Day”: A Tribute to Camilla Williams – Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 7:00 PM
The trailblazing City Opera soprano Camilla Williams made her debut at City Opera in May of 1946 and became the first African-American female singer to perform in a major American opera house. On this special evening, the company welcomes and celebrates Miss Williams, City Opera’s first Madama Butterfly, a distinguished singing teacher, and a favorite artist of Dr. Martin Luther King, chosen by him to sing at both his momentous March on Washington and his Nobel Prize ceremony.
 
The 88-year-old diva will offer her typically warm and witty observations on her illustrious career, her memorable life, and the extraordinary times in which it unfolded. Historical slides, audio and video clips, spoken and sung tributes, and the World Premiere of a film specially created for this occasion by musician and filmmaker Richard Glazier will enhance an unforgettable evening with this living legend.
 
“Troubled Island”: 60th -Anniversary Celebration – Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 7:00 PM
 With this program, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first world premiere in City Opera history: Troubled Island by William Grant Still, so-called “Dean of African-American composers”, and Langston Hughes, “Poet Laureate of Harlem”, whose ashes rest in the foyer of the theatre named for him at the Schomburg Center.
 
First performed at City Opera on March 31, 1949 (exactly 60 years before this evening), Troubled Island became the first work by an African-American composer to be presented by a major American opera company. Soloists from Harlem’s esteemed Opera Noire will offer narrated excerpts, in concert, from Troubled Island, based on the fascinating history of the Haitian slave rebellion of 1791. The evening will begin with an introductory talk by Howard Dodson, distinguished Chief of the Schomburg Center, and a brief talk by City Opera dramaturg Cori Ellison on the tempestuous history of this all-too-rare American masterwork.
 
About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. A cultural center as well as a repository, this Harlem-based modern research library also sponsors a wide array of interpretive programs, including exhibitions, scholarly and public forums, and cultural performances. For over eighty years The Schomburg Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of black history and culture.
 
About New York City Opera
Since its founding in 1943, New York City Opera has been recognized as one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, celebrated for its adventurous programming and innovative, risk-taking production style. The company’s wide-ranging repertory of 273 works spans five centuries of music and includes 29 world premieres and 61 American and/or New York premieres of such notable works as Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shostakovich’s Katerina Ismailova, Busoni’s Doktor Faust, Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and The Flaming Angel, Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, and Glass’s Akhnaten. The company has been a leading showcase for young artists, having helped launch the careers of more than 3,000 singers including José Carreras, Phyllis Curtin, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Lauren Flanigan, Renée Fleming, Elizabeth Futral, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano, Bejun Mehta, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Gianna Rolandi, Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, Tatiana Troyanos, and Carol Vaness. In 1983, City Opera made operatic history when it became the first American opera company to use super­titles, an innovation that has revolutionized the way opera is produced and appreciated worldwide.
 
New York City Opera and New York City Ballet have undertaken a $200 million capital campaign—the first such joint venture in the companies' histories—to enhance audience amenities and provide a state-of-the-art environment for productions at their shared home, the New York State Theater. In July 2008 the Ballet and Opera announced their intention to rename the New York State Theater in honor of Mr. David H. Koch's $100 million lead gift to the joint capital campaign. The name change takes effect in winter 2009. During the renovations, City Opera has taken to the road, bringing live music and provocative cultural conversation to more than fourteen different venues across New York City. In addition to the concert presentations of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra at Carnegie Hall, highlights of the year include a concert of 20th-century vocal and orchestral music led by Music Director George Manahan, which is being performed citywide. The year also features continuation of the company's acclaimed education programs, which will introduce opera to more than 4,000 students with special performances of an abridged English-language version of Mozart's The Magic Flute, and in May, the company’s 10th Anniversary edition of VOX: Showcasing American Opera.
 
Contact: Pascal Nadon / Shara Seigel
New York State Theater, 20 Lincoln Center, New York, NY 10023
phone: (212) 870-5632 · fax: (212) 724-1120 · email: operapress@nycopera.com www.nycOpera.com
 
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