in time with the New Orleans Opera Association as they present the Gulf Coast
premiere of Josephine by Tom Cipullo, which, according to the Washington
Post, is a "theatrically riveting" masterpiece that celebrates the life of
American activist, dancer, and singer Josephine Baker. The opera is directed by
No Dream Deferred Artistic Director Lauren Turner and conducted by founder
and artistic director of Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra Jerri Lynne Johnson.
in the theater scene as a little girl, Baker moved to Paris where she starred
in TV programs, held live concerts, and published several books, and, while
doing so, defied racial stereotypes and became an icon in France. She also received recognition for her
involvement with the French Resistance during World War II, which consisted of
undertaking spy missions, hiding Jewish and Resistance members in her chateau,
and using her fame to garner information from the enemy lines.
On April 8,
1975, Baker performed in front of a live audience filled with guests and
celebrities from around the world. The concert was a spectacular revue
celebrating five decades of her fame and fortune. This would be the last
performance of her life. Following her death, she was posthumously rewarded
with military honors and most recently inducted into the Panthéon.
authorized by UrbanArias in 2016, this single-scene, one-act
opera stars Laquita Mitchell as the eponymous Baker, who is being interviewed
by a journalist before her final performance. She tells him the story of her
life and how she rose to stardom, as well as the good and the bad that came
from it. Following the opera will be a ballet choreographed by Lauren Ashlee
Messina, which features dance moves inspired by Baker's many performances.
and ballet will perform at the Marigny Opera House on January 6-8 at 7:30 p.m. and
Sunday, January 9, at 2:30 p.m. In addition, New Orleans Opera will host a
Community Conversation on Saturday, January 8, at 11 a.m., where Turner,
Johnson, and Messina will give a history on Baker as well as their thoughts and
experiences of putting on the production. Those wishing to attend must reserve
a spot by emailing Director of Community Partnerships and Education Dr. Tara A. Melvin.
are sold out, guests interested in seeing the opera can try to get a spot on
the waiting list by calling the box office at 504-529-3000. For more
information about Josephine, visit neworleansopera.org.