September 18, 2020

‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ Opera to debut in July at Virginia Festival


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Derrick-WangBy Tony Mauro, From Supreme Court Brief

The much-anticipated comic opera about U.S. Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia will make its debut July 11 at the Castleton Festival in Virginia.

Tickets went on sale last week for the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, composed by Derrick Wang while he was a student at University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Wang graduated from law school in 2013.

Both justices, longtime opera buffs, have heard parts of the opera performed for them and have “responded favorably,” Wang said last summer.

Described by the Castleton Festival as a “valentine to law and opera,” Wang said of the opera’s plot: “Justices Ginsburg and Scalia must pass through three cosmic trials to secure their freedom. The catch: they may have to agree on the Constitution.” He added, “Opinions will be offered. Dissents will be delivered. And justice will be sung.”

Ginsburg last June made a presentation at the Castleton Festival on law and opera, and parts of the Wang opera were performed and “enthusiastically received” by the audience, according to a festival statement. “This presentation inspired the Castleton Festival to commission the world premiere production of Scalia/Ginsburg,” the festival organizers said.

During conversation in July in Washington, D.C. sponsored by Duke University School of Law, Ginsburg described the opera with delight, though she said, “my feminist friends” have asked her why Scalia’s name was first in the name of the opera, not Ginsburg’s. She explained, “In the court, we do everything by seniority.”

The festival takes place at Castleton Farms in Rappahannock County, Va., the 600-acre farm of the late conductor Lorin Maazel, who died last July. The festival’s goal is to bring internationally renowned musicians and conductors together with young musicians and students.

“I am excited to work with the Castleton Festival on the world premiere production of Scalia/Ginsburg,” Wang said. “Castleton embodies maestro Lorin Maazel’s dedication to new work, young artists, and the transformative power of opera. It is a great honor to take part in his musical legacy.”

IMAGE: Derrick Wang. Courtesy photo by Matthew Fried. (HANDOUT).

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