Opera Philadelphia

Support Opera on the Mall

Each year, Opera Philadelphia hosts Opera on the Mall, a free opera screening attended by thousands of people in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park.

We Shall Not Be Moved premiered at O17 with seven sold-out performances, then went on to Harlem’s Apollo Theater and Amsterdam’s Opera Forward Festival, where it was presented by Dutch National Opera, and proved that this timely, Philadelphia-based work could also find relevance with the wider international community.

Now Opera Philadelphia hopes to bring We Shall Not Be Moved back home, to invite the entire Philadelphia community to an HD screening of the opera at September’s Opera on the Mall.

But we need your support to help fund this signature annual event, so we have started a Kickstarter campaign, complete with tiered rewards.

Opera on the Mall is free to the public, but costs Opera Philadelphia a minimum of $160,000 to produce, including event set-up, equipment rental such as screens and speakers, production costs, permits, insurance, and staffing. Much of this is covered by corporate and private sponsors, but we need your help to raise the last $25,000 to bring We Shall Not Be Moved to the widest possible audience.

Independence National Historical Park

Sat, Sep 29 7:00 p.m.

This poetic interdisciplinary chamber opera draws on the collective talents of Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, Haitian-American spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and peerless director, choreographer, and dramaturge Bill T. Jones. In a production that combines spoken word, contemporary dance, video projection, and classical, R&B and jazz singing with a brooding, often joyful score, they tell the story of five North Philadelphia teens on the run: a 15-year-old African-American girl and her self-selected “family” of four brothers – a black-identified white boy and three African-Americans, one of whom is transgender. Their confrontation with local police officer Glenda – herself a woman of color – rises from the enduring ashes of the Philadelphia police’s 1985 bombing of the MOVE compound in West Philadelphia, and raises timely questions about national identity, race, gender, the failure for some of the public education system, and personal responsibility.

We Shall Not Be Moved stars spoken word artist Lauren Whitehead as 15-year-old Un/Sung, with countertenor John Holiday, bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock, tenor Daniel Shirley, and baritone Adam Richardson as her four self-appointed “brothers,” and soprano Kirstin Chávez as police officer Glenda, under the baton of Viswa Subbaraman.

We Shall Not Be Moved was a hit with audiences and critics alike, hailed as a “deeply moving” (Washington Post), “poignant and genre-bending” (Wall Street Journal), “highly polished piece of theater” (Philadelphia Inquirer). “One minute I was on the verge of tears,” said a local high-school student; “next minute I was on the edge of my seat.” As Opera News noted, with its “compelling score utilizing classical, jazz, music theater, hip-hop and dance music vocabulary,” We Shall Not Be Moved “succeeds on the level of art and not just polemic.”

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