About 58 years ago, Malcolm X was murdered, but his legacy has only grown in the ensuing years. In 1986, Anthony Davis, composer, and Thulani Davis, the playwright and poet, wrote an opera about Malcolm X called X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Although it did have a premiere at New York City Opera, it was never recorded commercially in full. Since then, the opera has been revised with a tighter libretto. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project has just released the world premiere of a new recording of the opera, starring Davone Tines as Malcolm X. With permission, here are excerpts from that opera.
Click on the triangle or MP3 link above to hear the opera selections as broadcast on the Arts Express program this morning on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
I’ll let the Smithsonian Folklife website describe this extraordinary five-minute performance:
“The mysterious art of bian lian or face-changing originated in Sichuan Opera, and has long been a closely guarded secret of Chinese performers. Hu Dongxiao of the Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe performed the most complex style of face-changing at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, switching between colored masks that represent different emotions in a dramatic story.”
Western magicians will smile at the breakaway fan used in the middle of the performance. As for the how of the instantaneous face-changing? No clue.
Click on the video to play; this one is best at full screen, which you can access by clicking on the lower right hand corner of the video.