How Detroit Debuted Toni Morrison’s Opera in 2005

Host Stephen Henderson reflects on the life and legacy of Toni Morrison and the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson spends some time reflecting on the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who died in the Bronx on Monday at age 88. Henderson is joined by several guests to look at her body of work, her life and the impact she left on the contemporary African American experience through storytelling and lessons of resilience, empowerment and healing. 

Michael Awkward is the Gayl Jones Professor of Afro-American Literature and Culture at the University of Michigan. Awkward says Toni Morrison was “a writer that has left a legacy of rich, engaged work that is monumental in ways that she was, I think, as a person, too.” 

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

In the second part of the Morrison discussion, Henderson transitions to looking at a piece of Morrison’s story that takes place right here in the city of Detroit.

Although widely known as a novelist, she added another title later on in her career: opera librettist. Her opera, “Margaret Garner” told the story of a runaway slave, and it was loosely based on the real life events she wrote about in her novel, “Beloved.” That opera debuted at the Detroit Opera House in 2005.

David Osbourne, Director of Production at the Michigan Opera Theatre and Suzanne Acton, Assistant Music Director and Chorus Master at the Michigan Opera Theatre. 

Click on the player above to hear Detroit Today reflect on the legacy of Toni Morrison.


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