BERKELEY - A free campus performance Thursday (Aug. 23) of a wrenching
but humorous opera about President Abraham Lincoln's assassination
highlights this semester's "On the Same Page" program hosted by the
College of Letters & Science.
John Shoptaw, a poet and lecturer in UC Berkeley's English Department,
wrote the libretto - or text - for the opera "Our American Cousin," which
he calls a "national meditation." Eric Sawyer, an assistant professor
of music at Amherst College in Massachusetts, composed the music. Janna
Baty and Drew Poling perform a concert version of "Our American Cousin,"
the opera about Abraham Lincoln's assassination that will be presented
Thursday, Aug. 23, at UC Berkeley's Hertz Hall.
Their work relies on historic documentation and interpretation, but
Shoptaw says its musical and poetic treatment produces a visceral truth
about the assassination that was "almost a ritual sacrifice for our sins,
to atone for slavery." The opera examines issues of the day, such as war
and peace, race and equality, freedom and slavery, the loss of lives and
monetary profit, patriotism and how to make sense of the deaths of 600,000
soldiers from the North and South. ...
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