Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit, MI)
In 1963, the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) was established as an education and outreach component of the Detroit Grand Opera Association. It became a professional opera company in 1971 and today annually reaches more than 250,000 people in the Detroit area through five opera productions, four dance presentations, and year-round arts education and outreach programs for all ages. MOT operates in a very diverse area of the country, which is reflected in its performances, which often feature young, multicultural artists.
MOT received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $40,000 in FY 2005 to support the world premiere of Margaret Garner. Composed by Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour, with a libretto by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Margaret Garner is set in 1856 and tells the true story of a fugitive slave's fight for freedom. This work, while adding to the American opera repertoire, also provided new opportunities for African-American opera singers to perform in lead roles. MOT hopes that its production will serve as a catalyst for the commission of more operas with African-American themes.
In addition to five performances, which ran between May 7-22, 2005, MOT arranged a four-week lecture series focused on the social issues inherent in the production, as well as its historical significance and artistic impact. For students ages 12-18, MOT developed an educational curriculum around the play. These educational programs reached a total of 40,000 people; this is in addition to the 15,250 people who attended MOT’s performances of Margaret Garner.
(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)