Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Family Gifts Washington National Opera Her Piano

The piano, among other gifts, are to be displayed in the newly renamed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Studio and Music Library

By: Nov. 07, 2021
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Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Family Gifts Washington National Opera Her Piano

Washington National Opera (WNO) launched its 2021-2022 season with a triumphant return to the stage in Come Home: A Celebration of Return, a concert performance of opera excerpts highlighting liberty and artistic idealism, themes embraced by John F. Kennedy, on Saturday, November 6, 2021. WNO's beloved champion and dedicated arts supporter, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was celebrated in a musical tribute of her favorite works. Justice Ginsburg's family also honored her love for WNO with a gift to the company of her piano, her costume from her appearance in WNO production of The Daughter of the Regiment in 2016, and some of her personal opera recordings, books, and memorabilia.

The evening also included an announcement of the newly renamed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Studio and Music Library at WNO's rehearsal studio in Takoma Park-where the piano is in use and the Justice's items will be on display for WNO's artists and guests.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the greatest advocates for our art form," said Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. "She also made all of us better artists through her high principles and inspiring way of living. With her in our audience, we wanted to do our best to elevate ourselves to her level. Thanks to this gift of her piano, WNO artists are connected to her passion and legacy as they prepare for roles and future careers for generations to come.

I am honored that one of the final performances she attended was a WNO chamber production actually held at the Supreme Court, just before the COVID-19 shutdowns. We presented Menotti's The Consul for the Justices and their guests, a story of a fearless woman trying to secure safety for her family in the dark times after WWII. It was a moving experience to perform this work at the Supreme Court and observe how art speaks to the timeless struggle for justice and freedom."

The family of the late Justice Antonin Scalia also payed homage to the two justices' unconventional but long-standing friendship with a donation to WNO. The gift, in honor of WNO's tribute performance to Justice Ginsburg, was made by Trish and Gene Scalia, in loving memory of Justice Scalia and Justice and Marty Ginsburg.

"I can think of no organization better suited to present such a tribute concert than Washington National Opera," said James Ginsburg, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's son. "I greatly look forward to seeing these tribute performances by some of my mom's favorite singers."

Principal Conductor Evan Rogister led the WNO Orchestra and Chorus in his first engagement of the season. The performance featured internationally acclaimed stars, a mix of WNO favorites; and new faces including: the WNO debut of Pretty Yende; WNO favorites Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, and Alexandria Shiner; and the mainstage debuts of David Butt Philip and towering bass-baritone Christian Van Horn.