Opera In The Works Highlighting The Story Of The Little Rock Nine

Sep 25, 2017

Historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates is collaborating with composer Tania Leon in the creation of "The Little Rock Nine" opera.
Credit UCA / University of Central Arkansas

A preview of a scene from an opera depicting the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 is scheduled for Monday evening at the University of Central Arkansas.

The event is one of several commemorating the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the school. UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication commissioned the opera, entitled “The Little Rock Nine,” which is being composed by Tania Leon. In an interview for KUAR’s Arts Scene program, Leon said she didn’t know much about the event when she was first approached to compose the opera.

“Once I read the history of the incident, and I even went to YouTube and saw clips, I was really very moved. You know, I come from a very poor family in an island of the Caribbean and I can identify with the hopes and dreams,” Leon said.

Historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates is collaborating with Leon to provide context and accuracy for the content of the opera. Both Gates and Leon will talk about the making of the opera as part of the preview, being held at UCA’s Reynold’s Hall.