26&27 June 2015; Miller Theater, NYC

This June, Morningside Opera, Harlem Opera Theater, and The Harlem Chamber Players team up to present a concert production of the Harlem Renaissance opera VOODOO by Harry Lawrence Freeman. Two performances only will take place on June 26 and 27, 2015, at Miller Theatre at Columbia University. VOODOO will feature seven principal singers, full chorus, and 30-piece orchestra. Terrance McKnight of WQXR will serve as concert host.

Music Director and Conductor Gregory Hopkins
Stage Director Melissa Crespo
Production Stage Manager Jessi Cotter
Concert master Ashley Horne
Starring Janinah Burnett, Crystal Charles, JoAnna Marie Ford, James R. Hopkins III, Barry L. Robinson, Steven Wallace, and Darian Worrell.

Written in 1914, VOODOO is set on a plantation in Louisiana just after the Civil War. It tells the story of a love triangle between three former slaves – the scorned woman turns to voodoo to do away with her rival. Typical of Freeman’s compositional style (which contemporaries compared to Richard Wagner), the opera blends western classical music with African-American spirituals and popular dance music of the day.

A contemporary of Scott Joplin, composer Harry Lawrence Freeman was well-known in the Harlem community and gained acceptance in classical music circles in the 1920s to 1940s. He won numerous awards, and his operas were performed at the Lafayette Theater and even at Carnegie Hall. Despite these achievements, however, his operas remain unpublished and there are no professional recordings of his music. Join us for this historic concert - the first performance of VOODOO since its 1928 premiere!

In conjunction with these performances, Columbia University will sponsor a conference called “RESTAGING THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE: New Views on the Performing Arts in Black Manhattan” on June 26 and 27, 2015. This two-day interdisciplinary symposium on African-American performing arts will include an array of events related to the VOODOO revival, including a keynote address on the significance of Freeman’s work, a round-table discussion with performers, and an exhibit of Freeman’s papers in Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

This project is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; in part by Council Member Inez E. Dickens, 9th Council District, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council; in part by a grant from Columbia Community Service; a grant from the West Harlem Development Corporation of Tides. It is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and The New York Community Trust/Charles E. Culpeper Fund. Additionally, this project is made possible in part by public funds from the partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.