Mary Chesnut’s Civil War Experiences Are the Subject of Opera at Cleveland Public Theatre

Fri 6/15 @ 7PM

Sun 6/17 @ 3PM

Mary Chesnut, who lived from 1823-1886, was the upper-class daughter of a slave-owning plantation family and she married into another. Her father was governor and senator from South Carolina; her husband also served as a senator from the state and served in the Confederate Army as an aide to Jefferson Davis.

With that background why would anyone want to write an opera based on the diary she kept during the Civil War? In fact, she was unusually candid about the relationship between different strata of society, between black and white, and between men and women, and the abuses of slavery.

The one-act opera Mary Chesnut was written by Cleveland-based composer Steven Mark Kohn, a Cleveland Institute of Music faculty member who has written classical, pop and advertising music, exploring Chesnut’s experiences as a woman surviving the war and social, political and economic changes it brought.

The work will have its world premiere at Cleveland Public Theatre, presented by ContempOpera and directed by Kent State University associate professor of voice Marla Berg. Each of the two performances will be followed by a reception with the composer, director and performers to share feedback on the work.

Tickets are $30.


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