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Community Programming for Margaret Garner

February 03, 2006

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    February 03, 2006
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    Opera Carolina News

Community Programming for Margaret Garner

Charlotte, NC (February 3, 2006) - Opera Carolina is proud to announce community-wide programs for adults and students to introduce the Southeastern US premiere of the new American opera Margaret Garner by Grammy Award winning composer Richard Danielpour and Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison, starring acclaimed opera diva Denyce Graves, on April 20, 22 & 23, 2006.

Because of Margaret Garner's powerful messages of freedom and courage, Opera Carolina is committed to sharing it with as many people in our region as possible. Opera Carolina is partnering with the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) and the Levine Museum of the New South (LMNS) to create special programming to support the performances, and to expand community participation and dialogue on the issues of artistic expression, contemporary opera, the legacy of slavery in modern society, and the historical significance of Margaret Garner to contemporary society.

Set in the years preceding the Civil War, Margaret Garner is a powerful story of love of family and the explosive issue of slavery. The opera tells the real-life story of Margaret Garner, a fugitive slave who killed her two-year old daughter and attempted to kill herself and her other children when faced with capture. She was imprisoned and was subjected to a sensational murder trial that heightened the abolitionist movement. She was found guilty of destruction of property and was returned to slavery. Toni Morrison used the tragic tale as the basis for her best-selling novel, Beloved.

James Meena, Opera Carolina General Director & Principal Conductor, shares, "Partnering with the Public Library and The Levine Museum of the New South allows us to create innovative programming that will inspire meaningful dialogue about the enduring quest for freedom in America that reaches beyond the opera house and into our communities. Through the universal language of music, the community has the opportunity to witness and explore the strength of the human spirit, and recognize that hope and courage transcend even the most unbearable circumstances. Together as partners, we celebrate this unique work of contemporary art, that brings together performers of diverse cultural backgrounds to present a dynamic work based on a dark chapter of American history."

Margaret Garner is made possible by the generous support of Time Warner Cable, the Arts & Science Council, and the North Carolina Arts Council.


The following programming is created to support the regional premiere of Margaret Garner and to enhance the fulfillment of the mission Opera Carolina has embraced for this unique American work.

Toni Morrison Lecture – Legacies for Today: The Margaret Garner Story
April 19, 2006 8:00 pm
Opera Carolina, in collaboration with the Levine Museum of the New South and Margaret Garner partner, the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, has engaged Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author and Margaret Garner librettist Toni Morrison to present a public lecture on April 19, 2006, at 8:00 pm in the Belk Theater of the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Tickets $10-$45 at 704-372-1000 or operacarolina.org

Presented by TIAA-CREF.

BELOVED Book Club Series- A comparison of the novel and the opera
Opera Carolina creates a unique book club initiative, centering on a comparison of Beloved and the libretto for Margaret Garner. Dr. Emily Seelbinder, professor at Queens University is partnering with Opera Carolina to present these special book club events. For this initiative, copies of the Margaret Garner libretto will be printed and distributed to book club members at no cost. Current presentations are scheduled at:

Sugar Creek Library - February 13 at 6:30 pm
South County Regional Library - March 2 at 7:00 pm
Joseph Beth Bookstore - March 23 at 7:00 pm (Sponsored by Skirt! Magazine)
Freedom Regional - March 27 at 7:00 pm

Other book clubs interested in Dr. Seelbinder's presentation may contact Opera Carolina at 704-332-7177 x 209. Available on a first come first serve basis. FREE

Presented with the support of the Foundation for the Carolinas Social Capital Fund.

Margaret Garner – Art and History Dr. Sally McMillen, professor at Davidson College, compares the historical fact of Margaret Garner's life to the storyline of the opera. This presentation is scheduled for the following library branches: FREE

Davidson - April 4 at 7:00 pm
Morrison Regional - April 5 at 7:00 pm

Presented with the support of the Foundation for the Carolinas Social Capital Fund.


For each opera production, Opera Carolina presents free previews featuring local lecturers with musical excerpts, historical perspective, and synopsis of the opera. This popular and informative programming continues for Margaret Garner at the following locations:

Borders at Southpark - April 9 at 2:00 pm
Davidson College - April 19 at 12:00 pm

Previews are also presented in the Mezzanine lobby (one level above the street) of the Belk Theater 45 minutes prior to curtain for each performance.

Presented with the support of American Express.

The Mourner's Bench: Reflections of a Slave Mother
This compelling one-woman show is a dramatic presentation by Alicia Williams exploring Margaret Garner's attempts to struggle with her plight. Free. Presentations at the following library branches:

South County Regional - March 7 at 7:00 pm
Beatties Ford Road - March 14 at 7:00 pm
Belmont Center - March 21 at 7:00 pm
University Regional - March 28 at 7:00 pm
Independence Regional - April 4 at 7:00 pm

Presented with the support of American Express.

Community Reads Program. -"Read This Book!" at the Public Library
As part of the Charlotte premier of Margaret Garner the Public Library will feature Beloved, the Toni Morrison novel on which the opera's libretto is based, as the selection for "Read This Book!," the community-reads project. Check the March issue of the library's magazine, Check It Out (available at library branches), or the Web site, www.plcmc.org, for information and details.

Presented with the support of the Foundation for the Carolinas Social Capital Fund.

Community Dialogues on Margaret Garner
The Community Dialogue group work will foster better understanding and inter-racial trust by focusing on the central issues of courage and respect found in the opera Margaret Garner. Each dialogue group will have no more than 20 participants and they will be asked to attend 3 dialogue sessions of 90 minutes each and a performance of the opera. The makeup of each dialogue group will be diverse in regard to age, race, gender, or occupation. Facilitators for the Community Dialogues will be provided by Opera Carolina. If you have an interest in participating in a group or putting a group together, please contact Teresa Robertson at Opera Carolina (704.332.7177, ext. 202).

Presented with the support of the Foundation for the Carolinas Social Capital Fund.

Low Cost Performance Tickets.
As an extension to Opera Carolina's highly successful program, Student Night at the Opera, we will make a minimum of 200 seats available at no cost for Margaret Garner and the Toni Morrison Lecture to students and adults participating in educational programs associated with Margaret Garner.

Sponsored by Wachovia and the Arts & Science Council.


Artist Residencies -The Music and Story of Margaret Garner (Elementary schools)
Artist Residencies at Charlotte Mecklenburg Elementary Schools University Park and Merry Oaks focused on the Margaret Garner storyline, music and creative writing. Teaching artist Yvette Lewis worked with 5th grade students January 23-26, 2006. The residency ended with a final presentation for parents and students.

Presented with the support of the Foundation for the Carolinas Social Capital Fund

Creative Perspectives: The Fine Arts and Margaret Garner.
The arts team at Jay M. Robinson Middle School plans to focus on the music, visual art, drama and dance of Margaret Garner. The teachers will have access to the musical score, set and costume photographs and other technical and artistic elements of the production. They plan to present their creations to parents on April 20 at the school.

Presented through a generous gift from Fred Lowrance in honor of his wife Sallie Lowrance.

Margaret Garner Essay Contest In conjunction with CMS and Anson, Mecklenbury, Onslow, and Wake County school districts, the Margaret Garner Essay Contest will bring students from diverse regional communities together to reflect in writing on the subject of Margaret Garner. The Opera Carolina Margaret Garner Essay Contest prompts students to examine the courage it takes to stand up to authority figures. By using the Margaret Garner libretto, opera knowledge and personal experiences, students will compose an essay explaining what courage means to them and how the characters in the opera exhibit courage.

Sponsored by Bank of America.

Toni Morrison Lecture is presented by TIAA –CREF

Margaret Garner is presented by Time Warner Cable, BB&T and Womble Carlyle Sandrich & Rice

Margaret Garner essay contest is presented by Bank of America

Margaret Garner community programs are presented by Wachovia, American Express, Allen Tate Realtors, the Arts & Science Council, and the Foundation for the Carolinas Social Capital Fund

Toni Morrison Lecture media support provided by WFAE 90.7 FM

Margaret Garner media support provided by Creative Loafing, WBT 1110AM, WDAV 89.9 FM, WFAE 90.7 FM, WCNC 6 TV, WTVI and WNMX 106 FM.

Season Media sponsors: Time-Warner Cable and The Charlotte Observer

American Airlines is the official airline of Opera Carolina.