The Night Belongs to Opera

For two nights only, Opera Noire of New York comes to Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs with two separate but equally spectacular programs: tonight, August 17, A Gala Performance of Opera’s Greatest Hits begins at 8 p.m. Then on Thursday, August 19, From The Underground Railroad to the

Great White Way begins at 8 p.m.

The Vineyard Playhouse is hosting Opera Noire, a performing arts company, as well as a resource and networking organization which was founded by three African American opera-singing enthusiasts who saw the need for African American singers to help build distinguished operatic careers. Members have entertained audiences from Milan’s La Scala to the Metropolitan Opera.

The company’s events build on the daring spirit that has been the driving force behind Opera Noire of New York since its founding by tenor Robert Mack, baritone Kenneth Overton and tenor Barron Coleman. The company promotes African American composers and artists, as well as performing classics with a fresh face.

With the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and New York City Opera, Opera Noire has presented rarely performed live excerpts from the operas Treemonisha, Ouanga, Four Saints in Three Acts, Till Victory is Won, Troubled in Mind, I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, by composers John Adams, Edward Boatner, Mark Fax, Scott Joplin, Virgil Thompson, Clarence Cameron White.

It was the first in a series that also includes A Tribute to Robert McFerrin and The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Opera Noire was asked by the Elie Wiesel Foundation to perform at the Humanitarian Awards Ceremony honoring the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and honored the legendary Jessye Norman at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Opera Noire’s educational programs in inner-city and suburban schools both entertain students and stress the importance of learning the origin of classical music, negro spirituals, and Broadway showtunes while bridging the gap between today’s popular music.

The Playhouse’s African American Festival of Theatre and Music continues with a limited run of Fly, the uplifting play about the heroic Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, with returns to the playhouse in Vineyard Haven from August 20 to 28.