Thursday, April 29, 2021 "A review of ‘Journeys to Justice’" includes "the final song of Adolphus Hailstork’s 1992 Songs of Love and Justice"

Adolphus Hailstork

Angela Allen

April 27, 2021

Good men must plan: A review of ‘Journeys to Justice’

Portland Opera does ‘Justice’ justice

In the 30 years I’ve covered Portland Opera—through many changes in administration, artistic direction and philosophy—I’ve never seen such a compelling program as this month’s Journeys to Justice. It began streaming April 16 and will continue through May 31. You can purchase a digital pass through Portland Opera, at a $50 suggested price, though there’s a “Pay What You will Option” for as little as $5.

The creative and accomplished quality of singing, staging, lighting, costumes, hair design! –the twinning of operatic and theatrical values came together as these six art songs and chamber operas based on Black experience (and written in the last 30 years) unfolded across 75 minutes with no intermission. Cutting-edge and contemporary in style, and convincingly done on camera, Journeys reached into the deep folds of pain and occasional jubilance that define Black American culture in a historically white supremacist landscape.


Most of the works are ones with which many—I would guess most—opera-goers are unfamiliar. That’s a reasonable assumption; several have been composed in the past three years and have been staged only once before.

More familiar are “Your Daddy’s Child” from Broadway’s late-‘90s Ragtime and the final song of Adolphus Hailstork’s 1992 Songs of Love and Justice, based on a Martin Luther King Jr. sermon (“when evil men plot, good men must plan”). Both were sung soulfully and tenderly by soprano Lynnesha Crump, a PO Resident Artist. Crump owned the stage in the final Hailstork piece, balancing with poise an elaborate headpiece that reached to the stars. Crump and her four fellow Resident Artists are not newbies to opera. All have advanced music degrees, and their performing maturity is clear.

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