“Take Me Out To the Opera” has been the theme for the 2016-2017 season of the Pittsburgh Opera in anticipation of their first world premiere in the company’s 78 year history, The Summer King, the story of Pittsburgh baseball legend Josh Gibson.
Daniel Sonenberg, composer of the opera, began working on this opera almost 15 years ago, but his love of baseball and his interest in the history of the Negro leagues goes back to his childhood. Reading the blog on his website, you feel his joy at finally having a fully staged version of this piece come to life in the city where Josh Gibson made his mark.
To learn more about the opera, listen to online excerpts and watch a video interview with Sonenberg from the New Works Forum 2014, shortly before the Forum presented the opera’s first public reading. An earlier online interview (2007) appeared on a baseball commentary site, UmpBump.com. The writer, Paul Moro, first panned the idea of Josh Gibson’s story becoming an opera. Moro did not expect Sonenberg to respond and was surprised and delighted when Sonenberg accepted an invitation to be interviewed! See Moro’s original post and the interview here.
If you want to learn more about Josh Gibson, the Homestead Grays, and other stars of the Negro leagues like Satchel Paige, you can browse our resources. The Josh Gibson Foundation, a local organization begun by Sean Gibson, Josh Gibson’s great-grandson, is dedicated to preserving Gibson’s legacy and the history of the Negro leagues and providing opportunities for Pittsburgh youth in education, sports and life skills coaching.
Josh Gibson never made it to the major leagues as a player. He died at the age of 35 from a brain tumor three months before Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play on a major league team. This production gives us all a chance to glimpse his greatness as an athlete and to hear a new opera for the first time.
Want to learn more about Josh Gibson and the Negro Leagues?Check out one of these titles today!
Rebekah is a professional pianist who enjoys all kinds of music, reading about neuroscience and exploring the Pittsburgh food scene. You can find her working in the Music, Film and Audio Department.