Arts + Culture,

The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson

Apr 27, 2024 - May 5, 2024
Byham Theater
101 6th St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

In 1943, the National Negro Opera Company is set to perform on a floating barge to evade racially-segregated venues. But when bad weather threatens—pushing the performance to a segregated performance hall—visionary impressaria Mary Cardwell Dawson must find a way forward.

Mary Cardwell Dawson’s dream to provide access for African Americans to perform on stages for all audiences changed the future of opera. Having founded the longest-running, all-Black opera company here in Pittsburgh and organizing opera guilds in the country’s biggest cities, Mary Cardwell Dawson would go on to train hundreds of African American youth to sing.

Written by Mark Twain Award-winning playwright and librettist Sandra SeatonThe Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson celebrates the remarkable founder of Pittsburgh’s historic and groundbreaking National Negro Opera Company. This play with music includes selections from Carmen as well as original music by award-winning Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Carlos Simon.

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