UC San Diego Composer Introduces ‘Central Park Five’ Opera
Monday, May 13, 2019
Credit: (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
The story of the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of rape in the 1980s, and their eventual exoneration is as relevant today as it was when it happened 30 years ago. That's why UC San Diego music professor Anthony Davis said when he first saw a draft of a libretto of the story by Richard Wesley he decided to compose it as an opera.
"It's a recurring story. I mean, the idea of African American youths being falsely accused and their harassment by police," Davis said. "It's even getting worse in terms of government intervention with immigrants. So I think that this is a real issue and something that's really relevant to people who are often described as 'the other.'"
Donald Trump even has a role in the opera, playing himself. In 1989 Trump took out full-page ads in several New York newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty and condemning the teens. Trump also spoke about the case while running for president in 2016 and said, in spite of the fact that the Central Park Five had been exonerated by DNA evidence, he still believed they were guilty.
The "Central Park Five," is Davis' eighth opera.
Anthony Davis and cast members will be performing excerpts from the "Central Park Five" opera and taking part in a talk on the subject at 7 p.m., Monday at UC San Diego's Mandeville Auditorium.
The opera will premiere in June at the Long Beach Opera.
Davis joins Midday Edition Monday to talk about the opera.
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