Celebrating Diversity During National Opera Week 2017!
Oct. 27 marks the beginning of National Opera Week 2017, led by Honorary Chair and longtime Michigan Opera Theatre friend and performer, Denyce Graves.
This year’s theme celebrates diversity within opera, and it is a value close to our heart since the founding of MOT in 1971. Our founder David DiChiera has long been a champion of diversity in opera, purposefully presenting a number of works that represent diverse cultures such as Porgy and Bess, Frida and the world premiere of Margaret Garner. He also created initiatives like “Opera for a New America,” which encourages companies to reach previously under-addressed segments of the population.
This week, we are excited to share a range of programming that recognizes and celebrates diversity in the arts. On Oct. 28-29, we present Ballet Hispánico, the premier Latino dance organization in the United States, featuring a program created by all female Latina choreographers. On Nov. 5, we are proud to present world-renowned American soprano Kathleen Battle in concert. Kathleen made her operatic debut with MOT in our 1976 production of The Barber of Seville, and we couldn’t be more proud and excited to have her perform with us once again.
Wednesday, Nov. 1 is Opera Advocacy Day, and we are particularly excited to present a special program at the Detroit Public Library as part of our “Take Me Out to the Opera” initiative, supported by a Knight Arts Challenge grant. The year-long initiative celebrates the distinction of arts and sports as institutional leaders in breaking racial barriers. It will culminate in our production of The Summer King opera, co-produced with Pittsburgh Opera, about Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson.
Our event Nov. 1 is co-hosted with the Detroit Tigers and will showcase the significance of the Detroit Negro Civic Opera Company and the Detroit Stars Negro Leagues baseball team in setting the stage for cultural change. It will feature George Shirley, the first African-American tenor to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, and Ron Teasley, a former Negro League baseball player who was one of the first Black players to sign with the Major Leagues and break the color barrier.
With dance, opera, history and even baseball, we hope you can join us for some or all of the great events this week as we celebrate diversity in the arts and sports!