Composer and UC San Diego music professor Anthony Davis joins Opera Hall of Fame

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis.
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and UC San Diego music professor Anthony Davis Pulitzer has been inducted into the Opera Hall of Fame.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Composer Anthony Davis, the UC San Diego music professor whose operas include “The Central Park Five” and “X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” is one of seven inductees to the Opera Hall of Fame’s class of 2023.

The Opera Hall of Fame, founded in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the industry service organization Opera America, recognizes opera industry members who’ve exhibited extraordinary leadership, advocacy, creativity, who have expanded the modern opera repertoire and helped the industry overcome obstacles. This year’s honorees were chosen from a pool of 166 nominees.

Davis is an internationally recognized composer of operatic, symphonic, choral and chamber works who has been on the cutting edge of improvised music and jazz for more than 40 years. His eight operas include “Under the Double Moon ,” “Amistad” and “Wakonda’s Dream.” His “The Central Park Five,” which premiered at Long Beach Opera” in 2019, received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music. In 2021, he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a board member of Opera America.

Besides Davis, this year’s inductees are mezzo-soprano Fredericka von Stade; baritone Sherrill Milnes; producer and administrator Michael Bronson; soon-to-retire Detroit Opera general director Wayne S. Brown; philanthropist and Metropolitan Opera President Emeritus Frayda B. Lindemann; and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation arts funder Susan Feder.

Opera America president and CEO Marc A. Scorca praised the new honorees in a prepared statement, saying: “The contributions to the field of the 2023 Opera Hall of Fame recipients cannot be overstated. We look forward to saluting these remarkable individuals who have shaped the field through their talent, dedication, and generosity. They have paved the way to a bright future for opera.”

The Opera Hall of Fame awardees join an existing list of NEA Opera Honorees, which were awarded from 2008 to 2011 by Opera America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Scorca will interview Davis onstage at Opera America’s national opera center in New York City at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) Oct. 19. The conversation will be live-streamed and tickets are $25 for non-members of Opera America.

Little Amal greets students at a New York school in September 2022.
Little Amal greets students from PS 397 Spruce Street School during an appearance at New York’s City Hall, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Little Amal visit begins at Rady Shell

Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a Syrian refugee girl scheduled to visit San Diego this fall, will begin her journey on Nov. 5 at the Rady Shell at Petco Park.

Amal Walks Across America is the centerpiece of the nonprofit The Walk Productions, which is producing a global series of festivals and educational events to bring attention to the plight of displaced people, particularly young people, whose lives have been uprooted by war, famine and corruption in their home countries. The name Amal means “hope” in Arabic.

In 2021 and 2022, Amal walked through Eastern and Western Europe. The U.S. tour begins Sept. 7 in Boston and will cross the country before arriving in California, with stops in Joshua Tree on Oct. 29, Los Angeles from Oct. 21-Nov. 3 and finally, San Diego Nov. 3-5. The 6,000-mile, 35-city U.S. tour is important for Walk with Amal because America has long been a refuge for the displaced.

On the evening of Nov. 3, San Diego’s Animal Cracker Conspiracy and the San Diego Symphony will host evening ceremonies for Amal at the Rady Shell. On Nov. 4, La Jolla Playhouse will be the hosting organization of Little Amal’s adventures through the Playhouse’s long-running Without Walls Festival program at an as-yet unannounced location. And on Nov. 5, Amal will walk through Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, with the support of local organizations Imagine Brave Spaces, Monarch School Performance Ensemble, Voices of Our City Choir, Madjal Center, and the Chicano Park Steering Committee.

New York actor Dominique Salerno plays 30 characters inside a box in "The Box Show."
(CSI Rental)

‘Box Show’ wows Edinburgh

“The Box Show,” a unique theatrical solo show created by San Diego native Dominique Salerno, earned rave reviews and sold-out houses at the recent Edinburgh fringe festival in Scotland.

Salerno, the daughter of Vantage Theatre co-founders Dori and Robert Salerno, presented the show at Liberty Station in April 2022 as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival. The solo show features Salerno inside an elevated 4-foot rectangular box with four hinged doors in the front that open in various combinations for the audience to view. Cramped within the box, Salerno plays more than 30 characters with minimal props and lighting, including a soon-to-be-born fetus floating in utero, Odysseus’ Greek army inside the Trojan horse, a British feminist pop star in a tiny recording studio, a lisping engagement ring, a 40-foot-tall giantess who washes cars in her mouth and Frida Kahlo painting a self-portrait.