Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Harlem Opera Theatre: Duke Ellington's Opera 'Queenie Pie' at the Schomburg Center Feb. 26

[Duke Ellington]

Harlem Opera Theater will salute Black History Month with excerpts from 'Queenie Pie,'
the unfinished opera composed by legendary musician, Duke Ellington, at the Schomburg
Center for Research in Black Culture.”

Described by Duke Ellington as an 'opera comique' and set in the village of Harlem,
classical singers will present excerpts from the world of Ellington’s 'Queenie,' who after
years as the reigning queen of beauty in Harlem, searches for eternal youth when her
crown is challenged by a rival. This colorful, eclectic opera was loosely written as a
tribute to Madame C.J. Walker, the daughter of slaves, who developed hair care products
for women of color and became the first African-American and the first female, self-made
millionaire. Ellington’s opera 'Queenie Pie' will be told through the extraordinary voices of
emerging and professional classical singers of Harlem Opera Theater.

This year’s concert is dedicated to the memory of Raoul Abdul, concert baritone, music
critic, author and literary assistant to Renaissance writer, Langston Hughes. Mr. Abdul was
a journalist for the Amsterdam News for over 30 years.

Friday, February 26, 2010
Concert begins at 7:30 pm (Pre-concert reception starts at 6:00 pm)
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Tickets: $25.00 for concert; $30.00 for concert and pre-concert reception. For more
information on ticket sales, visit or contact Carol
Brown at 212-592-078 or
[Duke Ellington is profiled at]

Comment by email
I was delighted to find your blog and website this morning when the announcement about Duke Ellington's "Queenie Pie" appeared in my daily "Madam C. J. Walker" Google Alert. I had a chance to see the Kennedy Center production several years ago. As Madam Walker's great-great-granddaughter and biographer, I'm always pleased to see information about her. I currently am writing a biography of her daughter (and my namesake), A'Lelia Walker, whom you may know is often mentioned as a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. She is well-known as a patron of the arts, but through my research of the last few years, I've discovered an even deeper connection to classical music and opera than I knew when I wrote On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.

I'd long known that attended A'Lelia Walker attended the opera at Covent Garden in 1922 and that the Walker women knew Enrico Caruso, who suggested the name for their Irvington- on-Hudson, NY home, Villa Lewaro (using two letters from A'Lelia Walker Robinson's name. i.e. LeWaRo), but I've now discovered A'Lelia Walker's early exposure to classical music and opera through several Oberlin trained black teachers and principals when she attended St. Louis public schools in the 1890s. There is more to the story, but for now, I just wanted to touch base with hopes that I will be able to be in touch with you when my A'Lelia Walker biography is completed later this year. All best wishes, A'Lelia Bundles

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