How Anthony Davis Put Malcolm X, and Black Power, Center Stage

Michele Zousmer

In the opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (New York City’s Metropolitan Opera, to Dec. 2), the iconic title character sings, “As long as I’ve been living, you’ve had your foot on me, always pressing,” and “You’ve had your foot on me a very long time.” The words may have been written in 1986, but, as its composer Anthony Davis told The Daily Beast, they are piercingly prescient for baritone Will Liverman to sing in 2023.

“That’s George Floyd, that’s the image,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, that cycle of violence still exists, and it existed prior to Malcolm too. On stage you see the names of all the victims of that history of racist violence. That violence has always been with us; it is part of the legacy to slavery too. The opera puts it in a larger historical context, and then has a cathartic release too.”

Davis won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2019 opera The Central Park Five, based on the high-profile 1989 case of five Black and Hispanic teenagers convicted and later exonerated of attacking a female jogger in Central Park. He is only the second Black composer to have their work presented by the Met. X—with a libretto by Thulani Davis, Anthony’s Grammy Award-winning cousin and longtime collaborator, and a story by his brother Christopher—premiered at New York City Opera in 1986, and it was “very exciting” to finally see it staged at the Met, said Davis.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Source: The Daily Beast

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