A new operatic event will showcase U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s favorite arias on what would have been her 88th birthday. This special virtual event will be available to watch both live and on-demand on Monday, March 15
Presented by the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH), and Opera Philadelphia, For the Love of Opera: Celebrating RBG’s 88th Birthday will feature commentary as well as performances recorded this month in UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall and NMAJH’s Dell Theater.
A lifelong opera fan and advocate, Ginsburg often spoke publicly about her love for the art form. The plots of her favorite operas often paralleled her professional pursuit of justice. For the Love of Opera will feature arias from her favorite operas, including “Hai già vinta la causa” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and “To this we’ve come” from Menotti’s The Consul.
The program features performances by UCLA’s Michelle Rice (soprano, DMA student in Voice Performance) with instrumental accompaniment by Stephen Karr (piano, DMA in Conducting). Additional performers include Joshua Blue (tenor), Norman Garrett (baritone), Ashley Marie Robillard (soprano), and Grant Loehnig (piano).
Remarks and reflections will be offered by Peter Kazaras, Director of Opera UCLA; Lawrence Brownlee, operatic tenor and artistic advisor to Opera Philadelphia, who shared the stage with Justice Ginsburg in Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment at Washington National Opera (WNO) in 2016; and Francesca Zambello, the WNO’s artistic director. “It is a rare privilege to be able to help curate this wonderful evening of reminiscence and love of opera”, shared Peter Kazaras. “I was lucky enough to have met Justice Ginsburg on several occasions, and I was always stunned by her mastery of detail about the opera productions she was attending. How did she manage to keep all of that information in her brain, in addition to all the legal knowledge and theory she must have been considering all the time? Inspired by her analysis of several opera moments in legal terms, I have suggested the same approach for our musical menu. The very last live opera production she ever saw was one I directed last March at Washington National Opera -- Samson and Delilah. We were all so honored for her presence and grateful for her support.”
For the Love of Opera will also highlight operas that deal with legal issues, justice, and equality — such as Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Menotti’s The Consul — and those with strong, independent female characters like Despina in Mozart’s Cosî Fan Tutte.
“Justice Ginsberg was the embodiment of the biblical precept, ‘Justice, justice shall you pursue’ (Deut. 16:20). While her practice of justice likely stemmed from her identity as a Jew, her commitment to this principle was profoundly and universally applied. We also recognize her love of opera and music as an expression of her deep connection to all of humanity, as music is a universal language,” shared Mark Kligman, Director of the LowellMilken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. “Participating in this collaboration to celebrate her life and legacy ensures that her memory will always be for a blessing.”
Monday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET, For The Love of Opera will air via Facebook Live on Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience and The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Facebook pages, with a limited number of Zoom slots also available.