Tag Archives: Black opera

Mother King – A life, a movement, an inspiration for these times

Before you read on, pause to view this short YouTube story about Alberta Williams King: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVp8Tj7h6GM  Then read a bit about the death of MLK’s mother here: http://www.atlantamagazine.com/civilrights/the-murder-of-alberta-king/

You will want to know and to think more about the life and influence of this grand woman.

The beautiful fact is that the story of Alberta Williams King is now immortalized in an opera that premieres this month.   Mother King, produced by OperaWorks52, opens next weekend at the Public Functionary in Northeast Minneapolis (https://www.facebook.com/events/1390516824378444/) 

Mother King is described as a “conceptual Black opera” that interprets the story of the slain activist. The libretto is based on a series of poems by Venessa Fuentes (https://www.linkedin.com/in/venessa-fuentes-00b49b9/) and the musical score is the work of Dameun Strange. (http://www.dameunstrange.com)

Through the words and music of  Mother King six local vocalists, including Liz Gre in the title role, share the story of “Black birth, Black resilience, and Black joy.” Joining Gre on stage are local vocalists Michael McDowell, Sarah Greer, Roland Hawkins, Kevin Moore, and Ava McFarlane.  They are accompanied by a twelve-member instrumental ensemble.

This is the first production of OperaWorks52, a collaboration formed by Fuentes and Strange.  The partners describe theirs as “a music and story-telling partnership that aims to highlight overlooked narratives, including the stories of individuals of color, Native people, women and those in the LGBTQ community.” (https://www.facebook.com/operaworks52/ )

Mother King is produced through a partnership between OperaWorks 52 and Public Functionary, an art exhibition and “social space” in Northeast Minneapolis.  Public Functionary is also the venue for the premiere production. (http://publicfunctionary.org)

Read a great interview with Fuentes and Strange in this recent issue of Twin Cities Arts Reader.  (http://twincitiesarts.com/2017/07/10/interview-venessa-fuentes-dameun-strange-mother-king/)

Performances for Mother King are at 7:00 p.m. July 20-22 and 27-28 at the Public Functionary, 1400 12th Avenue Northeast in Minneapolis.  Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets ($8 students and elders; $12 general admission)