Cincinnati Opera and UCC Conservatory of Music to hold workshop for 'The Righteous' opera

The Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College’s Conservatory of Music will hold a workshop for one of their in-progress opera. (Photo by Vlah Dumitru from Unsplash)

This Spring, the Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College's Conservatory of Music will present a workshop for an in-progress opera called “The Righteous” by Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith.

The workshop will be directed by Kevin Newbury and will take place on May 15 at the Cohen Family Studio Theater. 

Newbury is an opera and film director with over 100 projects under his belt.

He has worked multiple times with Spears, wherein five of them were world premieres.

This particular workshop is part of the “Opera Fusion: New Works,” which is supported by the Mellon Foundation.

The Righteous

According to the Opera Wire, "The Righteous" explores the challenge of reconciling spiritual humility with ambition in the modern world.

The story takes place in the 1980s American Southwest and revolves around a preacher who leads a growing church. 

As he becomes involved in politics and contemporary issues like feminism, the war on drugs, conflict in the Middle East, and the AIDS epidemic, his connection to God weakens. 

Throughout the story, his loved ones struggle with their own beliefs and understanding of faith and truth. 

“The Righteous” is by Spears, a well-known composer of operas.

One of his most famous works is "Fellow Travelers," which was commissioned by Cincinnati Opera.

It has been performed at various opera companies.

This includes the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Minnesota Opera, the Columbus Opera, and the Des Moines Metro Opera, among others. 

Critics have praised Spears' music.

They have described it as "astonishingly beautiful" and "some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory." 

Spears' style of music is a blend of minimalism, early music, and romantic lyricism. 

For his work on "Castor and Patience," Spears and librettist Smith acknowledged that they were performing on the unceded traditional territory of the Delaware, Miami, and Shawnee tribal nations.

And so, they paid their respects to elders past, present, and future. 

Apart from “The Righteous,” there will also be a workshop on “Robeson.”


The upcoming work, "Robeson," is composed by Scott Davenport Richards, who also wrote the libretto with David Cote. 

The opera will be directed by Robin Guarino and will take place at Music Hall's Wilks Studio. 

Guarino is a versatile director as she expands beyond the production of conventional opera.

The story of "Robeson" centers around the life of Paul Robeson.

The character is a well-known Black icon who used his fame to fight for equality. 

He is a vocal opponent of fascism and racism worldwide, which caused him to become embroiled in a power struggle between the United States and the USSR during the 20th century. 

The official press release for the opera notes that it is inspired by historical events and relevant to ongoing struggles for social justice today.

The performance date for the “Robeson” is on Thursday, April 13.

According to the Cincinnati Opera, admission is free for “The Righteous” and “Robeson.” However, reservations are required.


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