By Chris Ruel
Cerise Jacobs’ activist opera company, White Snake Projects, is set to host three online events starting on March 30. The projects lead up to the premiere of a new virtual opera, “Death by Life.”
The new opera examines the intersection of systemic racism and mass incarceration and was conceived as a monument of support for Black Lives Matter.
The events preceding the premiere include an interactive forum entitled, “Art as Transformation: Music and Drama for Incarcerated Youth” on March 30; a virtual exhibition and roundtable conversation, “Art and Imagination Inside Prisons” on April 6; and “Freedom-Making in an Age of Mass Incarceration” on April 13. All events begin at 7:00 P.M. ET. Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice of the Pozen Center at the University of Chicago, will moderate the April 6 and 13 discussions. Kim served as a collaborative partner.
“Death by Life” premieres online on May 20, with additional showings on May 22 and 25, and stars soprano Tiana Sorenson, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford, tenor Aaron Blake, and baritone Nicholas Davis. The creative team includes composers Jacinth Greywoode, Leila Adu-Gilmore, Jonathan Bailey Holland, David Sanford, Mary D. Watkins with text by Raul Dorado, Mary L. Johnson, Monica Cosby, Andrew Phillips, Phil Hartsfield, Joe Dole, Devon Terrell, and Eric Blackmon.
Cerise Lim Jacobs is the creator and librettist, Kimille Howard directs, and Tian Hui Ng is the music director. Audio Engineer Jon Robertson, Director of Innovation Curvin Huber, Projections Designer/Broadcast Engineer Paul Deziel, and lighting by Beck Marsh round out the technology team.
Backing the singers will be The Victory Players comprising Elly Toyoda on violin, Clare Monfredo on cello, Eric Schultz plays clarinet, and Nathan Ben-Yehuda.