Michigan Opera Theatre Wins Knight Arts Challenge Grant for “Take Me Out to the Opera”

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Michigan Opera Theatre was proud to win a Knight Arts Challenge grant for “Take Me Out to the Opera“, a year-long initiative that explores the role of arts and sports in improving racial equity and inclusion. The program includes a series of educational and humanities programs that explores and celebrates the distinction of arts and sports as institutional leaders in breaking racial barriers. With numerous community partners, MOT will present events throughout the city that combine baseball, music, and local history, including public concerts and lectures, youth workshops, historical exhibits and family activities that give voice to the community’s past and present commitment to equity and inclusion.

The program will culminate with MOT’s May production of “The Summer King,” an opera about baseball player Josh Gibson, who dominated Negro League baseball but was denied the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues due to segregation.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge grant funds ideas that engage and enrich Detroit through the arts.

In one of its first engagements, MOT will co-host an event with the Detroit Tigers at the Detroit Public Library, Wednesday, Nov. 1. The event 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. The event is part of National Opera Week with a theme of celebrating diversity in the arts.

Featured guests include:

George Shirley, the first African-American tenor to perform a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera. He is also a former singer with the Detroit Negro Civic Opera Company.

Ron Teasley, a former Negro Leagues baseball player who played for the New York Cubans. He was also among the first Black players to sign with the Major Leagues and played for the Olean (NY) Oilers of the PONY (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York) League, breaking the color barrier in the Class D circuit.

The Ernie Harwell and E. Azalia Hackley collections from the Detroit Public Library will be on view, and the event will include a performance of an aria from “The Summer King.”

The event is free but an RSVP is requested. For more information visit http://www.michiganopera.org/special-event/dpl/.

We hope you can join us for our DPL event and future events to come!