A Day in the Life Before a World Premiere
A Day in the Life Before a World Premiere
It’s October 28, 2022. As a brisk, still night settles over Santa Fe, things are heating up inside The Lensic Performing Arts Center. Longtime opera patrons mingle alongside never opera goers. Soon, the curtain will rise on This Little Light of Mine (TLLoM), a modern operatic masterpiece composed by Chandler Carter with libretto by Diana Solomon-Glover.
The one-act production is an unflinching yet uplifting dramatization of the life of Fanny Lou Hamer, a Black woman born on the very lowest rung of the American cast system. A Black woman who nonetheless rose to speak at the 1964 Democratic National Convention and became an exemplar of the Civil Rights movement. A Black woman who knew her worth despite a world that told her otherwise.
But hold on! A lot has happened between the time Opera For All Voices (OFAV) of The Santa Fe Opera first commissioned TLLoM and this triumphant evening. Key Change co-hosts (yep, a lot has happened) Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia check in with members of the production’s creative team in the hours leading up to the world premiere. What do they want folks to understand about Mrs. Hamer’s life and legacy? How has the piece expanded discussions around whose stories get told onstage? And what’s the connection between self-care and a tiny table?
If OFAV’s goal to foster community beyond opera’s traditional audience is central to this conversation, then TLLoM acts as the initiative’s standard bearer. It’s a fitting tribute to Mrs. Hamer’s innate ability to speak truth to power and galvanize individuals under one unifying voice.
Joining Andrea and Anna for this conversation are Chander and Diana; Jeri Lynne Johnson, conductor & music director; Beth Greenberg, stage director; and Laurel McIntyre, the show’s stage manager.
Andrea Fellows Fineberg – Co-Host
Anna Garcia – Co-Host
Chandler Carter – Composer
Diana Solomon-Glover – Librettist
Jeri Lynne Johnson – Conductor & Music Director
Beth Greenberg – Stage Director
Laurel McIntyre – Stage Manager
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
REPS ON SET
New Mexico Black Leadership Council
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE PLAYLIST
Mother of a Movement: This Little Light of Mine
BONUS: Is This America?
Singing A Call to Action: Is This America?
Making a Choice With Conviction: A conversation with Jeri Lynne Johnson
Lighting a Fire: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer
“I never wanna hear ‘I’m just one person; what difference can I make?’ Or ‘my one vote, what difference will that?’ because the truth is that we are still fighting for the very thing that Fannie Lou Hamer gave her life for.” – Diana Solomon-Glover
“One thing that I’m even prouder of is the community engagement, and that’s what the whole commission has been about, is reaching out into the community and bringing the community into the opera company.” – Diana Solomon-Glover
“We are changing the meaning of opera one production at a time, one world premiere at a time.” – Diana Solomon-Glover
“That big picture, it is easy to forget, but what we’ve done is share the story of a great American that many people, most Americans, do not know. And that, well, that in and of itself would be a service, but also just her life is powerful and inspiring.” – Chandler Carter
“It’s also equally gratifying to me, if not in some way more gratifying when people from the community that are amateurs, which is, it’s not a derogatory term. It means they’re doing it because they love it. That’s what the word means.” – Chandler Carter
“It’s just an enormous story in our times, an important story for our times, best told in words and song.” – Beth Greenberg
“Finding the common grounds between all of us of why we are here. And I think what brings anyone to arts, whether they are a producer, a creator, or an enjoyer of the arts, I suppose, is love.” – Jeri Lynne Johnson
“We’re making a world, and so here’s gonna be a lot of joy and a lot of frustration, and a lot of tears and a lot of people coming together. It’s a microcosm for the world.” – Jeri Lynne Johnson
“I think the process of that moment of recentering and finding joy in a heavy moment has been there, but this piece has really crystallized it for me in a new way.” – Laurel McIntyre
“Thank you to Santa Fe Opera because this piece, obviously, has so much important [things] to say about voting rights and being civically involved.” – Laurel McIntyre