Performance: Working Women: Songs of Suffering and Suffrage
In partnership with the American Opera Project
On the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the American Opera Project presents a new commission, “Her Sovereign Blackness a Beautiful Light” by Emmy-nominated composer Kathryn Bostic (Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am), alongside songs by composer Jessica Rudman and composer Tony Solitro with librettist Alice Eve Cohen as part of the “Songs of Suffrage” series. Bostic’s song expresses the injustice and disenfranchisement Black women faced during the Women’s Suffrage Movement; Rudman’s “Beyond the Power of Any to Deny” uses text from Susan B. Anthony’s 1872 speech voicing the right of all citizens to vote; and “Revolution Begins in the Bedroom,” by Solitro and Cohen, depicts Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President, who was arrested and jailed just before the election of 1872.
“Songs of Suffrage” is presented together with excerpts from the chamber opera Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War, (composer Kirsten Volness, librettists Kate Holland, Susan Werbe) which tells the story of the Great War as experienced by the diverse women who lived through it, using archival footage alongside documentary-style music videos by filmmaker Lesley Steele. It is scored for an all-women ensemble of six singers (Angel Desai, Briana Hunter, Maria Lindsey, Caitlin McKechney, Jessica Sandidge, Sarah Beckham-Turner) and string quintet (Meaghan Burke, Mimi Jones, Elena Moon Park, Andie Tanning, Melissa Tong). Altogether, this performance connects the women of World War I, the women who fought for suffrage, and the women of today through the power of song, in a moving commemoration of the 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial that acknowledges the complex history of the fight for progress.