EMILY ABRAMS ANSARI On the night of November 23, 1976, an unusually diverse audience arrived at the City Audirium in Jackson, Mississippi for a much-anticipated premiere. Commissioned by local black opera company Opera/ South celebrate the US Bicentennial, Jubilee was the work of a white librettist, Opera/South direcr nald rr (19342011), and an African American composer, Ulysses Kay (191795). rr had based the opera's narrative on a 1966 novel of the same name by Jackson author Margaret Walker (191598), which depicted her great-grandmother's experience of slavery, lynching, emancipation, and Reconstruction.1 In contrast previous Opera/South performances, which had involved only black soloists, Jubilee called for a diverse cast. The 2,460 audience members present that night watched as both black and white professional leads ok the stage, as well as three es of students drawn from hisrically black Jackson State University and Utica College and from the hisrically white Millsaps College.2 For a city that had witnessed some of the United States' worst race-related violence and for a nation trying find a way move beyond recent social, political, and economic turmoil, this operatic examination of slavery offered a much-needed demonstration of the possibilities of interracial collaboration and reconciliation. Emily Abrams
American Music – University of Illinois Press
Published: Mar 28, 2013
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