Opera Tells Saga of 'Margaret Garner'

Denyce Graves i i

Denyce Graves, seated, faces a court appearance as Margaret Garner. John Grigaitis/Michigan Opera Theatre hide caption

itoggle caption John Grigaitis/Michigan Opera Theatre
Denyce Graves

Denyce Graves, seated, faces a court appearance as Margaret Garner.

John Grigaitis/Michigan Opera Theatre

In January 1856, Margaret Garner and her husband fled the Kentucky farm where they were slaves. They were captured, and Margaret Garner killed her two-year-old daughter with a butcher knife rather than let her return to slavery. The story was the basis for Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. As Detroit Public Radio's Celeste Headlee reports, it debuts Saturday night as an opera, Margaret Garner, with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role. Morrison wrote the libretto, collaborating with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour.

Three opera companies — the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Cincinnati Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia — co-commissioned the work. It will move to Cincinnati this summer and Philadelphia early in 2006. Several more U.S. opera companies have already put Margaret Garner on their schedules.

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