The Santa Fe Opera In Collaboration With Kentucky Opera Presents Online Workshop
The Santa Fe Opera In Collaboration With Kentucky Opera Presents Online Workshop Of New Opera This Little Light Of Mine
Santa Fe, NM — 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.
About This Little Light of Mine
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.
About the Filming
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.”
About the Creative Team
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.
About the 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, a proud native of Brooklyn, New York. She has sung with opera companies around the country and world. Nicole made her Metropolitan Opera debut during their 2019/2020 season as part of the ensemble in the GRAMMY-winning (Best Opera Recording, 2021) production of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Currently, Nicole can be heard as part of a special four-part series Witness: Spirituals and the Classical Tradition for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Nicole also has experience in film and narration.
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.
For Calendar Editors
- WHAT: An online screening of a workshop of the new opera This Little Light of Mine about the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
- WHEN: In celebration of Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19 at 4:00 pm MDT / 6:00 pm EDT.
- WHERE: Interested parties may watch for free on the Kentucky Opera’s YouTube page.
About Kentucky Opera
Kentucky Opera was founded in 1952 and designated the State Opera of Kentucky in 1982. Its mission is to enrich and engage its community through spectacular music, creative storytelling and the thrill of the human voice. General Director/CEO Barbara Lynne Jamison was a member of the original Opera for All Voices consortium in her previous position as Director of Programs and Partnerships at Seattle Opera. She stepped into her current position at Kentucky Opera in August 2018. “The Opera for All Voices initiative is going head-to-head with the notion that opera is an old and irrelevant art form,” notes Jamison. “Kentucky Opera is thrilled to help bring a new opera to life, especially one as timely and meaningful as this. Through the powerful storytelling mechanism of opera, This Little Light of Mine reminds us of the importance of liberty and justice for all.”
About the Santa Fe Opera
Lauded by The Wall Street Journal as “the Rolls-Royce of American summer opera festivals,” the Santa Fe Opera annually draws 85,000 people from New Mexico and around the globe. Nestled atop a mountain vista in northern New Mexico, the company’s iconic Crosby Theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. Since 1957 the company has presented over 2,000 performances of 175 operas by 89 composers spanning five centuries of opera, creating a legacy of 45 American premieres and 16 world premieres.
About Support for Opera For All Voices and This Little Light of Mine
Commissioning and development support for Opera for All Voices was provided by the Melville Hankins Family Foundation, Principal Education Sponsor of the Santa Fe Opera; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and two OPERA America Innovation Grants, generously funded by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. The commission and production of This Little Light of Mine is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant and the generous support of the Melville Hankins Family Foundation. The workshop of This Little Light of Mine is sponsored by Gene and Jean Stark.
The mission of The Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertory of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians, and arts administrators; and to foster an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.