Malcolm X-inspired opera opens Saturday at Detroit Opera House

Malcolm X’s legacy endures with the latest premiere at the Detroit Opera House.

Photo credit: Detroit Opera House

Malcolm X was a minister, human rights activist and prominent Black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and 1960s. A naturally gifted and inspirational speaker, for many his life is mostly remembered through the phrase “by any means necessary.”

But the life of Malcolm X cannot be boiled down to a four-word phrase.

“Malcolm, if anything, has grown in importance in terms of what he represents for Black people.”— Anthony Davis, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer

On May 14, 2022, the Detroit Opera will premiere Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis’s opera “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X.

It’s an unflinching look at one of the most influential men in American history. Additional performances are scheduled for May 19 and 22.

Listen: How opera can uniquely tell stories about the Black experience.



Anthony Davis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer of the opera “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X.” He says one of his goals was to turn opera into a medium that tells stories about the Black experience.

“I wanted to do an opera…about someone who was really important to the black community,” says Davis, “and transform opera into a medium that can effectively tell stories about the Black experience.”

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