The Santa Fe Opera and Kentucky Opera Present Online Workshop of New Opera THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

This Little Light of Mine is a one-act opera that dramatizes the story of Fannie Lou Hamer.

By: May. 20, 2021
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The Santa Fe Opera and Kentucky Opera Present Online Workshop of New Opera THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

On Saturday, June 19 at 4:00 pm MDT / 6:00 pm EDT Kentucky Opera will present a free online workshop of This Little Light of Mine, a new, one-act opera commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera and co-presented in celebration of Juneteenth. The work, composed by Chandler Carter with a libretto by Diana Solomon-Glover, portrays key events in the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. A Black woman of humble origins, she spoke truth to power, and her tireless efforts culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The pre-recorded workshop will premiere on Kentucky Opera's YouTube channel and remain available for on-demand viewing.

This Little Light of Mine is a one-act opera that dramatizes the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper who rose to national prominence at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. In the opera, adopted daughter Dorothy Jean Hamer tells how Fannie Lou and her husband 'Pap' took in foster children as their own; how the injustices of the Jim Crow laws emboldened Fannie to demand the right to vote for African-Americans; and how Fannie shook the political world during "Freedom Summer" by helping to found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Describing to the Convention Credentials Committee her harrowing story of harassment, arrest and beating by the police, Fannie Lou Hamer pointedly asked: "Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?" This Little Light of Mine is in development as part of the Opera for All Voices initiative fostered by the Santa Fe Opera and its consortium partners.

Among the many cancellations of 2020 was the fall workshop of This Little Light of Mine. The workshop will now proceed and be filmed, observing state and federally recommended COVID-safe practices, on Monday, June 14 at the Kentucky Opera in Louisville, Kentucky.

June 19 marks Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States. It is commemorated on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in the state of Texas. Shares music director Jeri Lynne Johnson, "Every time I step on the podium, it's activism. Every time the orchestra is seated, every time an artist of color appears on stage, that is activism."

Creative Team

Chandler Carter..........Composer
Diana Solomon-Glover..........Librettist
Beth Greenberg..........Director
Jeri Lynne Johnson..........Music Director
Everett McCorvey..........Chorus Master

Chandler Carter's work focuses on historical stories that cross boundaries of race and power. In addition to works for the stage, Mr. Carter has composed over 50 songs and numerous choral, chamber and orchestral pieces which have been performed internationally by distinguished recitalists, choirs and ensembles.

Diana Solomon-Glover's career and talents have been showcased on the operatic stage, in concert, oratorio, recital, musical theater, cabaret and on radio and television across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and in Central America, and have long served humanitarian and social efforts. In 2001, Ms. Solomon-Glover created the role of Winnie Mandela in the premiere of American composer Chandler Carter's No Easy Walk to Freedom, an opera based upon the life of South African President, Nelson Mandela.

Beth Greenberg has more than 25 years of experience producing, directing and managing live, large-scale concert and theatrical productions in both indoor and outdoor venues. Ms. Greenberg is renowned for her work with the New York City Opera and has staged world premieres and traditional works for Opera Colorado, Fort Worth Opera and the Phoenicia Voice Festival, among other U.S. companies.

Jeri Lynne Johnson is heralded as one of today's leading female conductors. Maestra Johnson established her own orchestra in Philadelphia, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, to serve as a model for the 21st-century American orchestra. Described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "first-class on every level," Black Pearl's musicians have trained at leading music conservatories around the globe and combine artistic excellence with cultural diversity and innovative community engagement. Under Maestra Johnson's leadership, the Black Pearl has received numerous grants and awards including a record-breaking three prestigious Knight Foundation Arts Challenge grants.

Chorus Master Everett McCorvey is a tenor soloist, conductor and professor of voice. Mr. McCorvey is also the founder and music director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, the director and executive producer of University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, the artistic director of the National Chorale and the president of Global Creative Connections.

Cast

Nicole Joy Mitchell..........Fannie Lou Hamer
Aundi Marie Moore..........Dorothy Jean Hamer
Heather Hill..........June Johnson/SNCC Worker

The role of Fannie Lou Hamer is performed by powerhouse contralto Nicole Joy Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell is a native of Brooklyn, New York where she sang the world premiere of Songs from the F Train and is a frequent concert soloist with The Walt Whitman Project in Brooklyn, New York.

Aundi Marie Moore sings the role of Dorothy Jean Hamer. Ms. Moore proudly hails from Chesapeake, Virginia and is a former member of the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. She is celebrated as the 2015 winner of the American Prize in Vocal Performance and the 2016 Bronze Medalist at the American Traditions Vocal Competition in Savannah, Georgia.

The roles of June Johnson and SNCC Worker are presented by soprano Heather Hill. Ms. Hill's career encompasses appearances in opera, oratorio, musical theater, television and film. She recently performed with the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera and the Broadway revival of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Other recent performances include the New York premiere of Gloria by Robert Harris at Alice Tully Hall, and performances of Carmina Burana and the Lord Nelson Mass at Carnegie Hall.

Interested parties may watch for free on the Kentucky Opera's YouTube page.

The Santa Fe Opera and Kentucky Opera Present Online Workshop of New Opera THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE



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