The Santa Fe Opera

Skip to main content Skip to search
Fannie Lou Hamer

This Little Light of Mine

October 28 - 30, 2022

This Little Light of Mine

Friday, October 28 at 7 pm (World Premiere)
Saturday, October 29 at 7 pm
Sunday, October 30 at 2 pm

The Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 W. San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Tickets on sale now through the Lensic Box Office at 505-988-1234.

Venue
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Masks encouraged
Music By
Chandler Carter
Libretto By
Diana Solomon-Glover
Commissioning and Development Support for Opera For All Voices

Synopsis

This Little Light of Mine dramatizes the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper who rose to national prominence at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. As a black woman of humble origins, she spoke truth to power as perhaps no other civil rights leader. The opera is centered on Hamer’s appeal to the Convention’s Credentials Committee to replace Mississippi’s all-white delegation with that of the interracial Freedom Democratic Party. Describing her harrowing story of harassment, arrest and beating by the police, Hamer pointedly asked: “Is this America?” Her personal sacrifices leading up to that moment imbued Hamer with an unassailable moral authority and her explosive testimony sent shockwaves throughout the nation. Adopted daughter Dorothy Jean narrates her mother’s harrowing life story, but also embodies the general malaise of malnutrition and medical neglect that continue to afflict her community. The drama ends as it began, with the song of hope, “This Little Light of Mine,” still haunted by the reality of an unjust world.

Creative Team

Chandler Carter – Composer
Diana Solomon-Glover – Librettist
Nicole Joy Mitchell – Fannie Lou Hamer
Kearstin Piper Brown – Dorothy Jean Hamer
Heather Hill – June Johnson/SNCC Worker
Jeri Lynne Johnson – Conductor
Beth Greenberg – Stage Director
Lawrence E Moten III – Scenic Designer
Katherine Freer – Projections Designer
Brooke Stanton – Costumes Designer
Cookie Jordan – Wig Designer
Laurel McIntyre – Stage Manager
Dr. Stevie Springer – Chorus Director

Creative Team

Chandler Carter

Chandler Carter - Composer

Chandler Carter’s staged works have been variously described as a “compelling musical recounting” (Newsday); as conveying “an inborn feeling for the Southern setting, confidently employing elements of jazz, blues and gospel hymns” (Raleigh News and Observer); and “a strangely and powerfully moving drama” (Classical Voice).

Devoted to themes of social justice and the artist’s vision, Carter’s work focuses on historical stories that cross over boundaries of race and power. His early song cycle, Shouts, faces, cities and lonely roads (1990) evokes the images and aspirations of the civil rights era. He wrote the words and music for No Easy Walk to Freedom, based on the life of Nelson Mandela, which was premiered at The Riverside Church in New York City in 2001. Strange Fruit, based on the tragic novel by Lillian Smith and libretto by Joan Ross Sorkin, was showcased in New York City Opera’s Vox series and opened Long Leaf Opera’s 2007 inaugural summer festival in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Long Leaf Opera also premiered his one-act monodrama Mercury Falling, written for tenor and librettist Daniel Neer, in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2009. The Center for Contemporary Opera showcased his opera-in-progress, Bobby, based on the life of Robert Kennedy with libretto by Stephen Molton, in 2014.

In addition to his operatic work, Carter has composed over fifty songs and numerous choral, chamber and orchestral works, which have been performed internationally by distinguished recitalists, choirs and ensembles, including the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Riverside Church Choir and the Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra. Carter has received several awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Carter is Professor of Music and head of composition at Hofstra University. Also a respected scholar, his book, The Last Opera: The Rake’s Progress in the Life of Stravinsky and Sung Drama, was published by Indiana University Press in 2019. He is currently writing a textbook, Stories in Sound Through Time: Music as Cultural Act.


Diana Solomon

Diana Solomon-Glover - Librettist

To a growing list of accomplishments, Diana Solomon-Glover now adds the title of librettist. This Little Light of Mine, an opera about Civil Rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, with music by Chandler Carter was commissioned by Opera for All Voices and is scheduled to debut at the Santa Fe Opera in October 2022. This achievement crowns a career spent serving humanitarian efforts and social causes through her work on the operatic stage, concert, oratorio, recital, musical theater, cabaret and radio and television across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Central America.

Solomon-Glover has been a featured soloist for The Innocence Project’s Annual Gala, which celebrates the emancipation of wrongly incarcerated Americans and producer of Project People Foundation’s “Celebration of Life” concerts, which raised over $250,000 for programs benefiting South African children orphaned by AIDS. Ms. Solomon-Glover is co-owner with singer/composer Kristin Norderval of Reduta Deux, a not-for-profit dedicated to producing theatrical works that represent an unusual integration of vision and techniques whose subject matter reflects a broad human consciousness.


Nicole Joy Mitchell

Nicole Joy Mitchell - Fannie Lou Hamer

Nicole Joy Mitchell, contralto, is a proud native of Brooklyn, New York and has performed around the country and the world. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut during their 2019/2020 season as part of the ensemble in the GRAMMY winning production of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Best Opera Recording, 2021). She returned to the Metropolitan Opera in their 2021/2022 season in several productions, including Terence Blanchard’s historic opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones. She returns as a member of the ensemble for the 2022/2023 season appearing in several productions including Aida, Lohengrin, Dialogues des Carmélites and Terence Blanchard’s Champion in addition to several other works.

This past spring Nicole performed with Musica Sacra at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine as the alto soloist in Viktor Kalabis’s Canticum Canticorum. She enjoys traditional repertoire as alto soloist including Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms Alto Rhapsody, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Handel’s Messiah.

In addition to singing, last year Nicole premiered her composition using Walt Whitman’s Poets to Come! from Leaves of Grass in memory of her friend Greg Trupiano, Artistic Director of The Walt Whitman Project. She is currently composing a song cycle inspired by the words of James Baldwin.


Kearstin Brown headshot

Kearstin Piper Brown - Dorothy Jean Hamer

Kearstin Piper Brown, praised for her “thrilling singing” (Opera Now), and recognized as “a rising talent to watch” back in 2007 (The Cincinnati Enquirer) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after lyric sopranos in the US.

In 2022, she resumed performances in the lead role of Esther in Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera Intimate Apparel with Lincoln Center Theater for which she received the Theater World Award for an Outstanding Debut Performance in an Off-Broadway Production. Subsequently, she sang Musetta with New Orleans Opera and Leah in the world premiere of Southern Crossings by Zaid Jabri at the Gerald Lynch Theater in New York City. She also had resounding successes with recitals dedicated to the music of Black composers, first at Steven Blier’s New York Festival of Song and most recently with the Berkshire Opera Festival. Still on her agenda for 2022 are two important debuts: At Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, and with the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2023, she will make her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the world premiere of Proximity by Daniel Bernard Roumain, sing Wendy Torrance in The Shining by Paul Moravec with Opera Parallèle, and reprise Esther in Intimate Apparel, this time with Chautauqua Opera. She will also return to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for Songs of Harriet Tubman by Nkeiru Okoye.

Performances in 2021 included Bess with New Orleans Opera, recitals with Finger Lakes Opera as well as Anthony Knight’s No Cowards In Our Band and Margaret Bonds’ The Ballad of the Brown King, both with Syracuse Opera. She also made her debuts with Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2020, Ms. Brown previewed Esther in Intimate Apparel with Lincoln Center Theater, as part of the joint LCT and Metropolitan Opera’s New Works Program.

In previous seasons, Ms. Brown made her successful debut as Clara in Jake Heggie’s It’s A Wonderful Life with San Francisco Opera, where she also covered Dame Shirley in John Adam’s Girls of the Golden West.

Ms. Brown has performed her signature role Bess with numerous companies such as Utah Festival Opera, Opera Kazan, Skylight Music Theatre, Dayton Opera, Virginia Opera, and the Belarusian Philharmonic Orchestra Minsk. In addition, the European Porgy and Bess tour of the New York Harlem Productions brought her Bess to such prestigious venues as the Staatsoper Hamburg, the Semperoper Dresden, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and the Komische Oper Berlin. Another important touring production of the Gershwin classic was with Cape Town Opera, where she premiered the role in 2009 and subsequently went on tour to the Edinburgh Festival, the Royal Festival Hall London, and the Israeli Opera.

Ms. Brown holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Literature from Northwestern University School of Music. She was a Young Artist at the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy, the Opera Colorado, and the Utah Festival Opera, as well as Artist-in-Residents with Dayton Opera, Opera Memphis, and Cincinnati Opera. She has been a prize winner in several international competitions, including the Montserrat Caballé International Singing Competition 2009 (3rd prize), the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation 2010, and the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition 2011.


Heather Hill

Heather Hill - June Johnson/SNCC Worker

Heather Hill’s career encompasses work in opera, concert, Broadway, TV and film. Recent performances include the role of Angelica in Orlando: Hero of Love by G.F. Handel with Opera Praktikos in June and September of 2022 in New York City. In March of 2022, Heather performed the role of Ravine Marauder in the premiere of the new Musical Other World at the Delaware Playhouse. In 2021 she was the soloist in Knoxville, Summer of 1915, by Barber with the York Symphony Orchestra. She finished a four-year run performing as Carlotta and the Inn-Keeper’s Wife in the Broadway company of The Phantom of the Opera.  This followed performing Lily/Serena understudy in the Tony award winning Broadway revival of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. She has sung with many US opera companies including Little Opera Theater NY, Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Caramoor Festival and New York City Opera. Some favorite performances include Gloria by Robert Harris in Lincoln Center, Carmina Burana and the Lord Nelson Mass at Carnegie Hall. Heather is a frequent recitalist and voice over artist. She holds a Master’s degree from The Manhattan School of Music, a B.S. in Biology from Clark Atlanta University and studied acting at the T. Schreiber Studio in New York.


Jeri Johnson

Jeri Lynne Johnson - Music Director

In 2005 Jeri Lynne Johnson made history as the first Black woman to win an international conducting prize when she was awarded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. Since then she has continued to break barriers in Europe and the US as the first woman and/or African-American woman on the podium for many orchestras and opera companies in the US and Europe. A versatile artist who is comfortable with a variety of genres and styles, Jeri has developed a reputation for offering masterful and compelling performances of contemporary repertoire and has led numerous regional and world premieres. Past conducting engagements have included the Philadelphia Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony (UK), the Weimar Staatskapelle (Germany), Dallas Symphony Orchestra, New Orleans Opera. Her 2022-2023 engagements include world premieres for the LA Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis among others.

In addition to her guest conducting, Jeri is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra – a model for the 21st-century American orchestra. Established in 2008, Black Pearl combines artistic excellence, cultural diversity and meaningful community engagement and has been recognized nationally and internationally as an award-winning leading innovator in social justice and racial equity. In January 2021, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra had the honor of being the only orchestra in North America invited to participate in a virtual collaborative concert as part of the World Economic Forum at Davos. This inspiring event called See Me! A Global Concert involved filmmakers, visual artists, choirs, orchestras and musicians from around the world.

Based upon her work with Black Pearl, Ms. Johnson established DEI Arts Consulting in 2015 as a vehicle to share the insights and results of Black Pearl’s programs to offer data-driven strategic and creative solutions for cultural institutions seeking to create a culture of belonging.


Beth Greenberg

Beth Greenberg - Stage Director

Beth Greenberg is renowned for her work with the New York City Opera. For the Lincoln Center company she directed Turandot, Tales of Hoffmann, Der Rosenkavalier, Tosca, Intermezzo, La Traviata and La Boheme. Across New York’s harbor, on the historic ship Mary A. Whalen moored in Red Hook, Brooklyn, she directed the ground breaking, site-specific production of Il Tabarro.

Ms. Greenberg is also known for developing and directing new American operas. She collaborates on all creative phases, from first libretto reads to fully-staged world premieres. Among composers she’s worked with are Gordon Beeferman, Tom Cipullo, Anthony Davis, Jake Heggie, Lori Laitman, Nkeiru Okoye, Rachel J. Peters, Huang Ruo and Stella Sung.

Recent world-premieres include three of Lori Laitman’s operas (Uncovered, libretto by Leah Lax), The Scarlet Letter (David Mason), The Three FeathersA Magical Opera (Dana Gioia); Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman; and, The Red Silk Thread (Stella Sung & Ernest Hilbert). She will direct the New York Premiere of Uncovered for City Lyric Opera, November 16-19, 2022.

Other productions have been seen worldwide with Carmen in Tokyo and Tosca in Lima. Across America she has staged works for Opera Colorado, Berkshire Opera Festival. Fort Worth Opera, Kentucky Opera, Crested Butte Music Festival, Utah Festival Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Center, the Phoenicia Voice Fest and Syracuse Opera.

A Fulbright award brought her to Germany where she apprenticed with Götz Friedrich at Berlin’s Deutsche Oper. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music and Brooklyn College.


Lawrence Moten headshot

Lawrence Moten - Scenic Designer

Lawrence Moten is thrilled to be working with Santa Fe Opera for the first time. He is a designer based in Brooklyn NY and works across the country. Most recently his work has been seen on Broadway with Chicken and Biscuits at Circle In The Square, and Off-Broadway with the world premiere play Patience produced by Second Stage and STEW produced by Page 73. Regionally his work has been seen at The Wilma Theater with Fairview, The Old Globe with Trouble In Mind, Roundhouse Theater with World Premiere Plays it’s not a trip, it’s a journey and We Declare You A Terrorist… as part of the National Capital New Play Festival. On the West Coast he has been fortunate to work with California Shakespeare Theater, American Conservatory Theater, and Portland Center Stage. Some favorite collaborators in the past have included directors Nicole A Watson, Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Chip Miller, and Zhailon Levingston and playwrights Idris Goodwin and Charly Evon Simpson.

Lawrence is beginning his 6th year of teaching at Princeton University and recently started at Queens College as a faculty member for the ‘22-’23 School year. He earned his BFA in Design from Ithaca College. Proud Member of Local United Scenic Artists 829.


Katherine Freer

Katherine Freer - Projections Designer

Katherine Freer is a multimedia artist, filmmaker, organizer and educator whose artistic practice lives at the intersection of story, technology and civic engagement. Frequent collaborators include Ping Chong, Ty Defoe, Kamilah Forbes, Steve H. Broadnax III, Lux Haac, Porsche McGovern, Liza Jessie Peterson, Talvin Wilks and Tamilla Woodard. She is a proud member of Wingspace Theatrical Design and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829; Core collaborator in All My Relations Collective. Interim Head of Integrated Media Program, University of Texas at Austin.

 

 

 


Brooke Stanton

Brooke Stanton - Costumes Designer

Brooke Stanton is a costumer who has worked in theatre, film, and television. During her five years with George Lucas’ ILM, she built creatures for the Star Wars Special Edition Trilogy and The Phantom Menace. She has toured internationally and nationally designing for Peter Sellars.

Other clients include Disney, Columbia Pictures, CBS, American Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Aspen Music Festival, Berkshire Opera Festival, Boston Symphony Youth Orchestra, Commonwealth Shakespeare, S.F. Shakespeare, New England Conservatory, and Odyssey Opera.

She costumed three films with Robin Williams after studying Costume Design at NYU and Textiles at California College of the Arts.


Cookie Jordan

Cookie Jordan - Wig Designer

Hair and Wig Designer, Cookie Jordan’s work has been seen on Broadway in The Piano Lesson, Into the Woods, Trouble In Mind, Clydes, POTUS, Slave Play, Choir Boy, The Cher Show, Once On This Island, Sunday in the Park with George, In Transit, Eclipsed, Side Show, After Midnight, Fela, A View From the Bridge, and South Pacific.

Off-Broadway credits include Girls, Fefu and Her Friends, Aint No Mo, Fairview, Toni Stone, If Pretty Hurts, The Secret Life of Bees, Boseman and Lena, Fabulation, Our Lady of 121st Street, In the Blood, Daddy, and Hercules.

For television, she received an Emmy nomination for make-up design for NBC The Wiz Live.

She is the recipient of a 2019 and 2020 Obie Award


Laurel McIntyre

Laurel McIntyre - Stage Manager

Laurel McIntyre is pleased to have the opportunity to return to Santa Fe Opera. She travels regularly and enjoys working for a variety of companies across the country including Central City Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Colorado, and a variety of others. Other opera stage management credits include Romeo et Juliette, Glory Denied, The Shining, Don Giovanni, and Hometown to the World.

Her theatrical stage management credits include A Year with Frog and Toad, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Wit, Night of the Iguana, The Evil Dead the Musical, and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

She currently resides in New York City with her husband and dog, Anton. She would like to thank her family and friends for their ongoing support.


Stevie DeJuan Springer

Dr. Stevie DeJuan Springer - Chorus Director

Dr. Stevie DeJuan Springer is native of New York City by way of Texas and now resides in New Mexico. He is president/CEO of a nonprofit scholarship performing arts program and former chef/owner of Chez Axel French restaurant. Dr. Springer earned a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Huston-Tillotson University, a Masters in Music from the University of New Mexico a PhD in Business, and Medical PhD in science from the University of the Southwest and a Doctorate of Natural Medicine with a focus in Chronic Pain. Dr. Springer has served as a New Mexico educator since 2000. He continues to serve his Albuquerque community by making available opportunities for youth and adults to expose their musical talent. He recently traveled to New York where he took a group of students to perform at Carnegie hall. He has a private music academy where he teaches voice and piano to beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners. Dr. Springer is a music professor at the University of New Mexico and former APS music educator and has adjudicated many festivals and competitions around the state as well around the nation. He has taught in New York at the Harlem school of music and has appeared on Broadway and performed at Carnegie Hall.