The Metropolitan Opera will present its second work by a Black composer, Anthony Davis’ X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, just two years after its first. The company said Thursday (Sept. 16) that X will open on Nov. 3, 2023, in a staging by Robert O’Hara that will be conducted by Kazem Abdullah.
Baritone Will Liverman will sing the title role and soprano Leah Hawkins will sing in the staging, a co-production of the Met, Michigan, Opera Omaha and the Seattle Opera. The production will first be seen at Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theater next May 14 and travel to Omaha that October. The Met opens its 2021-22 season on Sept. 27 with Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, ending an 18-month gap in staged performances due to the pandemic.
X had its world premiere at New York City Opera in 1986. Davis, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music for The Central Park Five, will rewrite X to have one intermission instead of two. The Met recently made its eagerly anticipated return after an 18-month pandemic shutdown, with the excited audience of 3,600 offering up a pair of standing ovations before the first note was played, first when the chorus filed in and then when concertmaster Benjamin Bowman walked on to tune up the orchestra.
Then, 90 minutes later, when conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin relaxed his arms, the audience responded with 8 1/2 minutes of thunderous applause, bringing wide smiles and hints of tears to the 200-plus performers on stage. The pandemic caused the Met to cancel more than 275 performances, including its entire 2020-21 season, plus an international tour. The gap was the longest since the company began in 1883.