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Opera Carolina's 'Garner' goes out on the airwaves

June 21, 2007

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    June 21, 2007
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    Opera Carolina News

Opera Carolina's 'Garner' goes out on the airwaves

A Nobel Prizewinner in the audience. Students writing essays relating a slave's experiences to their own. Book-club discussions about turning a story from prose into opera. Community forums on race and history. A gripping performance by an operatic luminary.

Charlotte was a livelier place last year while Opera Carolina was presenting "Margaret Garner." The new opera, based on the real-life story of a slave who killed her children rather than see them enslaved, was created by composer Richard Danielpour and writer Toni Morrison. Detroit, Cincinnati and Philadelphia -- whose opera companies commissioned "Garner" -- saw it before it arrived here. But Charlotte is the city that's sending it on to opera lovers across the country.

Opera Carolina's production, recorded during the performances, begins airing Saturday on National Public Radio's "World of Opera." That puts Opera Carolina in snazzy company. Recent weeks' broadcasts have included performances from two big-time European operations -- the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival -- as well as top American groups.

A spot on the series "makes a very positive statement about the company," General Director James Meena said.

When plans to record "Garner" in connection with earlier performances fell through, Opera Carolina got its opening. The company had to raise $25,000 to cover the costs, Meena said, including royalties to the performers and recording the three performances. Composer Danielpour oversaw the editing.

Davidson's WDAV-FM (89.9) will air it at 7 p.m. June 30 and 3 p.m. July 1. If you can't wait, you don't have to: At www.wpln.org, the Nashville, Tenn., station's Web site, you can hear it streamed Saturday at 1:30 p.m.