Lemuel Wade (1974-2014)

January 5, 2015

Lemuel WadeAll of us here at AOP are mourning the passing of talented artist and dear friend Lemuel Wade who lost his sudden battle with cancer on December 22. Lem directed the sold-out AOP hit Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, which premiered in February 2014 in Brooklyn. Along with Tubman, Lem’s AOP projects included the concert version of Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King in Portland, Maine, Companionship and Dreaming of Wonderland at Manhattan School of Music, and numerous in-house workshops. He was laid to rest among family and friends in his native Chicago.

We are humbly moved that Lem’s family has selected AOP as one of the 3 charities for those interested in making contributions in Lem’s memory.

AOP Receives Matching Kickstarter Donation For Abolitionist Music-Theater Festival

February 14, 2014

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February 13, 2014

(New York, NY) AOP has received a dollar-to-dollar matching contribution from an anonymous donor during the last week of its Kickstarter campaign for Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, in rep at the Irondale Center this spring as part of the Lines of Freedom Festival. With less than five days to go, the campaign is still accepting donations for the chamber version World Premiere of Nkeiru Okoye’s acclaimed folk opera. The campaign has already garnered attention from media sources including an article in the New Yorker. AOP has previously had successful Kickstarter campaigns for its premiere production of Phil Kline’s Out Cold at BAM and the Composers & the Voice (C&V) concert series.

Funds for the Lines of Freedom Kickstarter go “directly to our creators –  composer, Nkeiru Okoye, our hardworking casts of actors and singers, talented instrumentalists from the Harlem Chamber Orchestra, local chorus members, and technical artists” as well as to subsidize additional performances for local students.

To make a contribution, please go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1518219023/lines-of-freedom/posts/744952

The Lines of Freedom Festival will take place at the Irondale Center from February 20 to March 1, 2014. Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom will be performed on February 21, 27, and March 1 at 7:30pm, and Feburary 22 at 3pm. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors and $15 for the matinee performance. For more information, please go to http://irondale.org/LinesOfFreedom.html


February 11, 2014


Janinah Burnett

Janinah Burnett

New York, NY—Soprano Janinah Burnett (Metropolitan Opera, La Bohème on Broadway) will portray American icon Harriet Tubman in a new folk opera with music and lyrics by Nigerian-American composer Nkeiru Okoye. Produced by AOP (American Opera Projects), Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom will  premiere in a chamber version as one half of the Lines of Freedom festival running February 20 – March 1 at Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased at www.irondale.org or by telephone at Ovationtix, 866 811-4111. Tickets are also available at the TKTS Booth.

Using a mixture of opera and vernacular folk music, featuring gospel spirituals, ragtime, early blues, minstrel songs, work songs, call and responses, and field hollers, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom tells this important chapter of American history in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family and the slavery threatening to tear them apart.

Clinton Ingram, Sequina DuBose, Damian Norfleet, and Nicole Mitchell in a December 2013 concert presentation of the opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

Clinton Ingram, Sequina DuBose, Damian Norfleet, and Nicole Mitchell in a December 2013 concert presentation of the folk opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

The folk opera will also include vocal performances by Marsha Thompson (New York City Opera), Nicole Mitchell (Lincoln Center Festival), Clinton Ingram (Metropolitan Opera), Briana Elyse Hunter, Damian Norfleet, Patrice P. Eaton, Ernest Jackson, Kyle Guglielmo, and Anthony P. McGlaun and feature members of The Harlem Chamber Players, conducted by Leslie B. Dunner, with stage direction by Lemuel Wade (L’Opera de Montreal).

Lines of Freedom brings two works of exciting musical theater and opera to the stage in celebration of the rich heritage of abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. The shows are presented during Black History Month by The Irondale Ensemble Project and AOP (American Opera Projects), two arts organizations based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In addition to AOP’s Tubman opera, The Irondale Ensemble Project will present Color Between the Lines: The Abolitionist Struggle in Brooklyn, a work created in collaboration with Brooklyn Historical Society and Weeksville Heritage Center as part of In Pursuit of Freedom, the first public history project to explore abolition and the anti-slavery movement in Brooklyn.

Presentations of Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works.

Complete production credits and bios available at

Soprano Sumayya Ali as Harriet Tubman in a December 2013 concert presentation of the opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

Soprano Sumayya Ali as Harriet Tubman in a December 2013 concert presentation of the folk opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.


Music and libretto by Nkeiru Okoye

Feb 20 – March 1, 2014

Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

General Admission $25; Senior/Students $15; Matinees $15
Freedom Package – See both shows for $40
Freedom Matinee Package – See both matinees for $25
For tix: www.irondale.org, 866-811-4111

120 Minutes with intermission

Co-presented by AOP and the Irondale Ensemble Project

AOP kicks off summer with free concert in Fort Greene Park

June 17, 2013

On Friday, June 21, AOP, with friends Opera on Tap, Two Sides Sounding, and Lauren Flanigan’s Music & Mentoring House, will perform “The Voice of Brooklyn,” a free outdoor concert of opera, musicals, spirituals, and songs in Fort Greene Park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn from 5:30pm to sundown. A full schedule and details on the performances are available at www.operaprojects.org/events/MMNY2013.

  • The day’s music will begin with songs from composers championed by American Opera Projects over the years, interspersed with selections by local artists paying tribute to Kings County itself in Two Sides Sounding’s “AOP Friends and Neighbors,” with performances by Eleanor Taylor, Hai-Ting Chinn, and Mila Henry, and featuring music from composers such as Renée Favand-See, Matthew Schickele, Lee Hoiby, and Gabriel Kahane.
  • Summer lovebirds might flock to Fort Greene as Opera on Tap presents “Summer Lovin’…”, where Opera on Tap’s divas and divos bring their operatic stylings to the streets to show just how musical summer romance can be.
  • In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, AOP singers perform a mix of traditional spirituals, operatic favorites, and compelling new songs, featuring music by Nkeiru Okoye from the opera “Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom” and “Brooklyn Cinderella,” a song cycle based on the poetry of Brooklyn teenagers. Performances by Sumayya Ali, Sequina Dubose, Clinton Ingram, and Damian Norfleet.

  • Flanigan KightThe evening will close with musical performances by acclaimed soprano, Lauren Flanigan (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, AOP’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon, Marina, and Beauty Intolerable), and vocal students of Music and Mentoring House. Together, the singers will perform new works by composer Josh Kight from “Pity,” a musical theatre work that explores the relativity of truth, and song cycles “The Cuckoo” and “Chairs,” a piece that explores the simple but important relationship that people have with different chairs.

The concert will be presented as part of the annual Make Music New York Festival, a live, free musical celebration across New York City that takes place each June 21 – the longest day of the year. This year’s concert is AOP’s fifth partnership with MMNY. For a lineup of other MMNY concerts around the city visit www.makemusicny.org.

Additional links:

AOP’s 2011 Make Music NY concert in Fort Greene Park.

AOP receives NEA grant to develop, present “HARRIET TUBMAN” in 2013

December 5, 2012

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$15,000 grant to fund presentations of new musical work by composer Nkeiru Okoye based on the life of Harriet Tubman, hero of the Underground Railroad, on 100th anniversary of her death.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced last week that AOP is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. AOP is recommended for a $15,000 grant to support the creation, development and presentation of Nkeiru Okoye‘s folk opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, during 2013, the 100th anniversary year of Tubman’s death and the 150th anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation. Performances of the opera will occur in states along the Underground Railroad where Tubman was active.

“I’m proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public including AOP’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom,” said Chairman Landesman.  “These projects offer extraordinary examples of creativity in our country, including the creation of new work, innovative ways of engaging audiences, and exemplary education programs.”

Charles Jarden, General Director of AOP, states “AOP is grateful to the NEA for their support of new work, especially new opera.  Harriet Tubman is the fourth AOP opera in four years to receive NEA funds.  With the aid of this generous support AOP has launched four stylistically different, artistically excellent projects that have had and will continue for many years to have an impact on citizens of our county. AOP commissioned Nkeiru Okoye for songs  in our I HEAR AMERICA SINGING program, through funds from New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, and we witnessed the powerful impact of her music on the general public when we performed them in various inner city locations.  We are thrilled to be working with Nkeiru on her first opera and her choice of the Tubman story is perfect for AOP, a Brooklyn-based opera company.”

In March 2012, the NEA received 1,509 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $74 million in funding. The 832 recommended NEA grants total $22.3 million, span 13 artistic disciplines and fields, and focus primarily on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing works for the benefit of American audiences. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

As part of AOP First Chance, a public workshop series for developing new opera and music-theater works, music from Harriet Tubman has been presented at several New York City venues including Galapagos Art Space and the Brooklyn Public Library. It has also received libretto development in closed workshop sessions at AOP.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov

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