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MassOpera Announces A Virtual Broadcast Featuring Selections From FREEDOM RIDE By Dan Shore

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On Wednesday, October 21 at 8 PM, MassOpera presents a special broadcast of selections.

On Wednesday, October 21 at 8 PM, MassOpera presents a special broadcast of selections from their 2019 New Opera Workshop Concert Performance of Freedom Ride, by Boston-based composer Dan Shore.

The concert performance was originally presented at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, in collaboration with Chicago Opera Theater (COT) and the City of Boston in November 2019, and was the second opera in MassOpera's New Opera Workshop series. Freedom Ride was funded in large part due to a generous grant from The Boston Foundation. The selections from Freedom Ride will be free to watch via MassOpera's YoutTube page. We at MassOpera feel that the content of Freedom Ride is particularly poignant and relevant given that the election and pandemic have laid bare the systemic underpinnings of racial injustice, and therefore want to make this broadcast as accessible as possible. The broadcast will begin at 8 PM via MassOpera's YouTue page.

Prior to the broadcast, MassOpera is inviting audiences to attend a virtual panel discussion with members of the creative team and cast from Freedom Ride. MassOpera will be joined by composer and librettist, Dan Shore; Chicago Opera Theater Music Director, Lidiya Yankovskaya (who conducted both the MassOpera New Opera Workshop Concert Performance and the World Premiere of Freedom Ride at Chicago Opera Theater); soprano, Alicia Russell, who portrayed the protagonist, Sylvie Davenport; and baritone, Ron Williams, who portrayed Sylvie's love interest, Clayton Thomas. The panel will be moderated by Michael J. Bobbit, the Artistic Director of New Repertory Theatre. The panel will be hosted via Zoom, and participants are asked to register via MassOpera's website to receive the Zoom link, as there is limited capacity. We are asking participants to consider making a suggested donation of $20 to partake in the Zoom panel. In order for audiences to attend the panel via Zoom, they will need to register via MassOpera's website here:

Freedom Ride is set in the early 1960's segregated South and tells the story of one young black woman's decision to join the civil rights movement as a Freedom Rider. The concept for Freedom Ride came about with a commission for a suite of music from the Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans when Dan Shore was a professor at Xavier University. Chicago Opera Theater later commissioned the full opera.

MassOpera's cast for the October 21st showing of Freedom Ride includes Alicia Russell (soprano) singing the role of Sylvie Davenport; Imani Francis (mezzo-soprano) singing the role of Georgia Davenport; Fred C. VanNess (tenor) singing the role of Russell Davenport; Ron Williams (baritone) singing the role of Clayton Thomas; Steven D. Myles (tenor) singing the role of Rev. Jerome Mitchell; and Melynda Davis singing the role of Leonie Baker.

Freedom Ride tells the story of Sylvie Davenport, a young student from New Orleans, as she is drawn into the Civil Rights Movement in the summer of 1961.

Activists, Clayton and Jerome, are trying to recruit volunteers to join the Freedom Rides to Jackson, Mississippi, part of a massive and dangerous plan to desegregate interstate bus and train travel. They recruit several students, including Russell Davenport and his older sister Sylvie, who is initially hostile, but attracted to Clayton and determined to win his respect.

As the day for Sylvie's ride to Jackson looms closer, her personal life starts to interfere with her plans: Clayton rejects her love, her mother Georgia disowns her, her college revokes her scholarship, and Russell backs out of his initial commitment. At a church rally the night before she is to leave, a bomb is tossed through the window, injuring many of the Freedom Riders, including Clayton and-fatally-Sylvie's young friend Ruby.

Will Sylvie board the train and join the movement?

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