Wednesday, June 4, 2014 'An Opera About Little Rock Integration, With Libretto by Henry Louis Gates Jr.', Music by Tania León

Tania Justina León (b. 1943) 
is featured at and 
has a web site at

Henry Louis Gates Jr
Rahoul Ghose/PBS, via Associated Press

Ever since John Adams had his first operatic hit with “Nixon in China,” operas based on the headlines and recent history rather than mythological tales and literary adaptations have become plentiful. The University of Central Arkansas is hoping to add the story of the Little Rock Nine  – nine black students who enrolled at what had been an all-white high school in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957 – to the operatic annals. The school is in the process of commissioning the composer Tania León and the scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. to create a work about the incident, and hopes to present the premiere in September 2017, around the 60th anniversary of the events.
Rollin Potter, the former dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at the university, began the commissioning process and agreed to stay on to see it through. He said on Tuesday that he had selected Ms. León to compose the work after reviewing recordings by several composers with members of the music faculty. Ms. León brought Mr. Gates into the project as its librettist.
“This is Tania León’s initiative entirely,” Mr. Gates said in an email, “and I was flattered that she suggested that we work together. Tania and I were fellows at the Rockefeller Foundation’s research center in Bellagio on Lake Como back in 1992, and we have been very good friends since then.”

Comment by email:
What a team!  I'd bet Dave Baker, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Adolphus Hailstork, and Bill Banfield could also have done the job!  Dominique-René de Lerma

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