Cast of Margaret Garner Visits Its Historical Setting

Classic Arts News   Cast of Margaret Garner Visits Its Historical Setting
Several members of the cast of the new opera Margaret Garner this week visited Maplewood Farm in Kentucky, from which the historical Margaret Garner escaped in 1856, the Cincinnati Post reports.

The Richard Danielpour opera had its world premiere in Detroit in May, and opens at Cincinnati Opera on July 14. It tells the story of a slave who escaped from her owner and fled to the free state of Ohio. Faced with recapture, she killed her youngest daughter rather than seeing her returned to slavery.

About 50 people from the cast and the company visited the farm in Richwood, Kenucky, which is 20 miles south of Cincinnati. The group included Danielpour; Gregg Baker, who plays Garner's husband Robert; soprano Angela Brown, who plays Cilla, Garner's mother-in-law; and baritone Rodney Gilfrey, who plays her owner, called Edward Gaines in opera. (According to the Post, Margaret Garner's real owner was named Archibald, but the name was changed to make it more singable.)

Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, who sings the title role, has not yet arrived in Cincinnati.

The cast toured the remains of the farm's original kitchen and the local church that Garner attended.

"It was inspiring to see the artists' reaction to being at the Maplewood historical site," Cincinnati Opera general director Patty Beggs told the paper. "Because Margaret Garner's story happened in Cincinnati, we have a unique opportunity—and a responsibility—to build a bridge between the historical facts of the case and the artistic representation of her life in the opera."

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