Detroit Opera tells the story of Detroit Red with its performance of ‘X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X’

The opera shares the different phases of Malcolm X's life

May 9, 2022 at 12:51 pm
Malcolm X. - Ed Ford, World Telegram/Wikimedia Commons
Ed Ford, World Telegram/Wikimedia Commons
Malcolm X.

Detroit Opera will pay homage to Detroit Red.

The opera house will premiere X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X on Saturday, May 14. The award-winning opera was written by Anthony Davis, and will be directed by Robert O'hara and conducted by Kazem Abdullah for the Detroit performances.

The timing of the performance falls close to the celebration of Malcolm X Day, a holiday, though not yet recognized by the federal government, that falls on the third Friday of May, near Malcolm X's birthday.

Yuval Sharon, the artistic director for the Detroit Opera, suggested the opera's revival as he continues to navigate his first season with the opera house.

"Since its New York City Opera premiere in 1986, X looked and sounded like no other opera of its time, or any since,” Sharon said in a press release. "The piece was so unconventional that it sat unproduced for decades; thirty-five years later, Detroit Opera is leading the charge on what will be the second professional production of the opera, in a way that will prove that Anthony Davis and Thulani Davis were ahead of their time when the piece was premiered.”
Davóne Tines, the Detroit Opera's artist-in-residence for the 2021-2022 season, will take lead in the production portraying Malcolm X.

“This story, as Robert seeks to tell it, asks us ‘How are YOU Malcolm X?’,” Tines said in a press release. “In that frame, this residency with Detroit Opera has been a part of my own meta preparation for the role because I wanted to see how I could, in my own way, be useful to the Detroit community Malcolm X had been a part of.”

In addition to the performances, there will be a series of community events surrounding the premiere of X. On May 12, “X”: A Legacy for the 21st Century, a panel discussion , will take place at the Chrysler Black Box Theatre and will feature Roshelle Riley, the city of Detroit's Director of Arts and Culture, Tamara Payne, author of The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, and Illyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz.

X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X premieres at 7:30 p.m. on May 14 at the Detroit Opera, with two additional performances on May 19 and May 22; 526 Broadway St., Detroit; 313-237-7464; Tickets start at $29.

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