The groundbreaking story of Malcolm X premieres at the Metropolitan Opera

Thursday, November 2, 2023
A groundbreaking Malcolm X opera arrives at The Met
Sandy Kenyon reports on the groundbreaking Malcolm X story coming to the Metropolitan Opera.

LINCOLN CENTER, Manhattan (WABC) -- More than three decades after it was written, a groundbreaking opera about Civil Rights leader Malcolm X arrives at the Metropolitan Opera house on Friday.

"X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X" covers the late Civil Rights leader's transformation over the course of his life that ended so suddenly and tragically when he was assassinated in Harlem back in 1965.

"Because you think about all of the incredible transformations in his life, his journey from a kid up to when he was running drugs in prison. He gets reformed to the Nation of Islam and becomes the man we know as Malcolm X, there's so much great material to draw from," said composter Anthony Davis.

"The Life and Times of Malcolm X" has an epic scope that lends itself to opera, and the fact that such stories have rarely been told from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, make "X" even more exciting.

Will Liverman, who stars as Malcolm, calls his character a tragic hero.

"He goes through all this transformation, through this fire, and comes out with a revelation about who he is and what he's going to mean to the world and then he's struck down," said Liverman.

A recent dress rehearsal made clear the power of the work that has only grown more relevant in the decades since Anthony Davis wrote it.

"I think there's a longing, particularly in the African American community for statements that speaks, speaks to the community, speaks to our lives now, and I think opera can do that," said Davis.

Just a few years ago, an opera based on such a controversial figure would not have been staged at The Met, but Leah Hawkins, who plays the dual role of Malcolm's mother and wife, sees it as a moment of genuine change.

"There are opportunities that I'm getting that people before me did not get," said Hawkins. "And I'm getting them soon than people even think I should even because they want to sort of diversify the stage in a way that is working."

Tickets and information on the new production can be found here.


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