Derrick Wang, a recent law school grad and passionate musician, had an epiphany while studying Supreme Court legal opinions to write an opera based on the Justices’ words. He sees the relationship between Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as worthy of the dramas of the stage. Interestingly enough, opera is one interests Scalia and Ginsburg can actually agree on. They are both aficionados of the bel canto and have been friends for decades. However, their opinions in court could not be more different, which is why Wang thought their interactions would make the perfect opera.
In Wang’s own words,
“…in the midst of this roiling rhetoric, counterpoint, as Justice Ginsburg’s words appeared to me — a beacon of lyricism with a steely strength and a fervent conviction all their own. And I said to myself, ‘This is an opera.’ “
His opera, Scalia/Ginsburg, is slated to debut at the University of Maryland (Wang’s alma mater) in the fall, but the Justices have already seen a preview this past June.
This is not the first time that an opera has been made about legal and political proceedings. In 2009 Melissa Dunphy, an undergraduate at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, wrote a 40 minute piece called The Gonzales Cantata. It is based on the wiretapping scandal and resulting Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of Alberto Gonzales, former US Attorney General.
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