Strand will host Malcolm X opera on June 17

The Strand Theatre will stage the New England premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis’s seminal opera “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” on Fri., June 17, at 8 p.m.

Led by conductor Gil Rose, the three-act production features celebrated bass-baritone Davóne Tines, Musical America’s 2021 Vocalist of the Year, in the title role of Malcolm X.

Rose, who is the founder and artistic director of both Boston Modern Opera Project (BMOP) and Odyssey Opera, called it “a thrill” to present the production ”just blocks away from his home” in Roxbury.

“There is no better way to celebrate contemporary Black creativity in Boston and nationally than with the resurrection of a forgotten work composed, written, and performed by Black artists about Black activist and legend Malcolm X,” he said..

X marks the first production in BMOP’s five-year performance and recording initiative “As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage,” the most extensive and ambitious presentation of opera by Black composers to ever take place in the United States.

Davis, the opera’s composer, won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music for The Central Park Five. He has made revisions to X to reflect his updated views on the opera, which he composed in 1986. 

“Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik el Shabazz) is an even more relevant figure today,” said Davis. “It has been 35 years since the premiere of X. Malcom’s vision is as prescient today as it was in 1986. He is an inspiration for Black Lives Matter and the movement for social justice. As a composer, I am thrilled to help create X as an opera for today that speaks to the future as well as the past.”

BMOP and Odyssey Opera will record X at the Strand Theater during the weekend of June 18-19 for a world premiere recording of the revised edition to be released on BMOP/sound.

In partnership with Castle of Our Skins, a Boston-based, Black-led chamber music ensemble, the X production also includes an educational program designed to continue conversations about Malcolm X.

This past spring, Boston Arts Academy students learned about the history and legacy of Malcolm while creating works to commemorate his life and impact in anticipation of the opera’s New England premiere. Students’ projects (video works, visual art, dance performances) will be presented in the lobby at the Strand Theatre before, during and after the concert.

More details about this free, public Malcolm X exhibit, along with other programming exploring the history and legacy of Malcolm X, will be announced soon.  For more information on the show and tickets, visit BMOP.org.

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