May 20, 2021

The Santa Fe Opera and Kentucky Opera Present Online Workshop of New Opera THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

On Saturday, June 19 at 4:00 pm MDT / 6:00 pm EDT Kentucky Opera will present a free online workshop of This Little Light of Mine, a new, one-act opera commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera and co-presented in celebration of Juneteenth. The work, composed by Chandler Carter with a libretto by Diana Solomon-Glover, portrays key events in the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. A Black woman of humble origins, she spoke truth to power, and her tireless efforts culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The pre-recorded workshop will premiere on Kentucky Opera's YouTube channel and remain available for on-demand viewing.

This Little Light of Mine is a one-act opera that dramatizes the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper who rose to national prominence at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. In the opera, adopted daughter Dorothy Jean Hamer tells how Fannie Lou and her husband 'Pap' took in foster children as their own; how the injustices of the Jim Crow laws emboldened Fannie to demand the right to vote for African-Americans; and how Fannie shook the political world during "Freedom Summer" by helping to found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Describing to the Convention Credentials Committee her harrowing story of harassment, arrest and beating by the police, Fannie Lou Hamer pointedly asked: "Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?" This Little Light of Mine is in development as part of the Opera for All Voices initiative fostered by the Santa Fe Opera and its consortium partners.

Among the many cancellations of 2020 was the fall workshop of This Little Light of Mine. The workshop will now proceed and be filmed, observing state and federally recommended COVID-safe practices, on Monday, June 14 at the Kentucky Opera in Louisville, Kentucky

June 19 marks Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States. It is commemorated on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in the state of Texas. Shares music director Jeri Lynne Johnson, "Every time I step on the podium, it's activism. Every time the orchestra is seated, every time an artist of color appears on stage, that is activism."