Father murdered by white supremacists. Mother institutionalized by white society. A grade school boy taken from his siblings and forced into the foster care system. So starts the Michigan story of Malcolm Little, whose early years in East Lansing shaped the brutal worldview and ultimate redemption of the man who would become Black activist, human rights icon, and legend Malcolm X.
A masterpiece penned in the mid-80s by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis (Central Park Five), X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X charges onstage with a distinctly American story told in a distinctly American voice. With Wagnerian influences sharpened by Miles Davis and Charles Mingus improvisations, X barrels through Malcolm’s outlaw years as “Detroit Red,” his spiritual awakening in prison, and his rise to glory and infamy as an unflinching critic of white power and beacon of black hope.
The first professional staging of the entire opera since its 1986 premiere at New York City Opera, this production preserves the jazz ensemble incorporated into the orchestra and features Davóne Tines, MOT’s 21-22 Artist-in-Residence, embodying the role of Malcolm X.
Directed by Tony-nominee Robert O’Hara (Slave Play), X celebrates, questions, confounds, and delights in a moving exploration of how defining oneself can become the most daring act of all.