By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Thanks to a $600,000 boost from Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati Opera is a step closer to mounting Margaret Garner, the first opera commissioned by the company in its 84-year history.
The P&G Fund grant is the lead gift to support Cincinnati Opera's production of Margaret Garner, based on the chilling, true tale of a fugitive slave who escaped across the frozen Ohio River to Cincinnati, and decided to kill her child rather than see her return to slavery. The opera, a co-commission with Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Company of Philadelphia, will premiere in Cincinnati in 2005, to honor the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Artistic director Nicholas Muni expressed thanks for P&G's vote of confidence.
"The deep local ties and national significance of Margaret Garner's story, combined with the high caliber creative team, make this new opera a fitting tribute to the Freedom Center and all that it represents to our city and to our nation," he said.
The production will bring together Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour with best-selling author Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, and will star noted mezzo Denyce Graves in the title role.
The $600,000 grant comes just in time for the first in a series of programs about Margaret Garner, which will feature Danielpour joining Freedom Center senior adviser Carl Westmoreland for an "Opera Rap" and a performance. (7 p.m. Feb. 19, Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine. Reservations are necessary: 744-3511 www.cincinnatiopera.org.)
The remainder of the funding will be through Cincinnati Opera's Festival Campaign. The company will launch its public phase this summer.
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