Scalia/Ginsburg: A Really Interesting New Opera Comes To Lancaster This Weekend

Scalia/Ginsburg?  That's really the name of it?  Sounds weird. 

Those were my initials thoughts after being asked to play in the orchestra for Penn Square Music Festival's upcoming production.  But as rehearsals started and I learned more about the music, the composer, and the two justices- I discovered that the whole thing is actually very cool. 

Scalia/Ginsburg is an opera written by Derek Wang in 2015 about the friendship of United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg.  Despite disagreeing with each other on most issues, the two were very good friends and avid opera fans. 

Scalia/Ginsburg has a cast of only three; the two judges and a narrator. As for the music, composer Derrick Wang used a technique he calls "operatic precedent", where his music and lyrics constantly cite well-known tunes and lyrics from other operas, mimicking the way a judge cites legal precedent in their decisions.  But you don't need to be an opera nerd and get all the references to enjoy the show.  It's easy to listen to and has several funny moments as well. 

Wang completed the piece in 2015, but because of the storyline, choose to rewrite the ending about a year later when JustIce Scalia died.  Ginsburg passed in 2020, but there has not been a second rewrite yet. 

I sit under the stage in the orchestra pit with the rest of the players, but the sounds that travel down from the stage are outstanding.  The conductor is Brian DeMaris, who grew up in the Lancaster area and is now the Artistic Director of Musical Theater and Opera at Arizona State University. Unfortunately, I don't have any information on the singers yet, other than to say that they sound great! 

Performances are taking place in the brand new Gardner Theater at Lancaster Country Day School- a beautiful venue and the perfect place for a show like this. 

Scalia/Ginsburg looks to be an excellent production. If you're free this Friday night or Sunday afternoon- I strongly recommend attending, even if you don't think opera is your thing. 

For more information and tickets, visit the Penn Square Music Festival website at:

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