Hope will never be silent. This is the credo of civil rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, the main character in Stewart Wallace’s opera Harvey Milk Reimagined. The work will receive its world premiere at Opera Saint Louis, Missouri, conducted by Carolyn Kuan in collaboration with stage directors Seán Curran and James Robinson.
Harvey Milk Reimagined is inspired by the life and martyrdom of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected public official. Milk had a foot in two separate ghettos, navigating being both gay and Jewish. He was a boy in Long Island at the time of the liberation from Europe’s concentration camps at the end of World War II. Like many Jews of his generation, he believed that remaining silent was no longer a moral option. His sense of moral outrage and courage stems from this time. When he began to transfer these lessons to himself as a gay man, he transformed himself from a closeted Wall Street businessman into an outspoken leader of the gay community.
A Life Dedicated to Freedom in Harvey Milk Reimagined by Stewart Wallace
For this production, Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie have radically reimagined the score with an emphasis on its mythical elements, as a celebration of Harvey Milk’s life. This new Harvey Milk is streamlined. It’s taut and visceral and, appropriately, the premiere is proudly part of a city-wide celebration.
My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you. I’ll fight for you because I am you. If you are not personally free to be yourself in that most important of all human activities — the expression of love — then life itself loses its meaning. Harvey Milk
After the opening night, Opera Saint Louis will present five more performances of Harvey Milk Reimagined by 25 June.
photos: Library of Сongress (Harvey Milk) / Lazy Llama (background)