A week before staging its first opera by a Black composer in its 138-year history, the Metropolitan Opera has announced its second, to open in 2023. Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Davis’ X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X will open at the New York house November 3, 2023. Robert O. Hara, currently Tony-nominated for his work on Broadway’s Slave Play, will direct.
The new production of the opera, which premiered in 1986 at New York City Opera, will first play Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Omaha. (The staging is a co-production between the three companies, as well as with Seattle Opera).
Taking on the title role will be baritone Will Liverman, who also leads the aforementioned milestone production—Terrence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones—this fall. Soprano Leah Hawkins will play Louise and Betty Shabazz (Malcolm X’s wife). Kazem Abdullah will conduct.
O’Hara says his staging, which will also feature a reworked libretto by playwright Thulani Davis, will work “in collusion with the past, present, and Afro-futurism in imagining with a child-like wonder a prophet in search of a future for our people where the final gunshot is not the end of a legend but the beginning of a liberation.” Working with him to create that vision will be set designer Clint Ramos, costume designer Dede Ayite, lighting designer Alex Jainchill, and projection designer Yee Eun Nam.
Tony nominee Camille A. Brown will choreograph, having previously worked on the Met’s Porgy and Bess and Fire Shut Up in My Bones (in addition to choreographing, she is also a co-director on the latter).