Opera Birmingham to compose a touching story on Helen Keller’s life + why Gov. Kay Ivey finds it important

Kay Ivey
A BIG thank you from our governor. (Screenshot from Office of the Governor)

Probably Alabama’s most iconic woman, Helen Keller is making her way to the operatic stage. The renowned Opera Birmingham has recently commissioned an opera titled Touch on Helen Keller’s accomplishments as an adult. Keep reading to find out more about this work.

Opera Birmingham

Opera Birmingham
Keep singing! (Opera Birmingham)

Opera Birmingham is Alabama’s largest professional opera company and has entertained diverse audiences since 1955. They’ve produced over 50 operas that have touched lives from all over the world. This is their first time writing an original opera.

We can’t wait to see how they will portray Helen Keller in their latest work.

Not just an opera

Helen Keller
A touching story. (Opera Birmingham)

We all know about Helen Keller’s early life, but what about her accomplishments as an adult? This brand new opera will focus on her adult life as an activist for civil and disability rights with her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy. It’ll be a 90 minute, two-act chamber opera written and performed in English.

Since the opera is focusing on a story about disability rights, it’ll be interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL). Braille program notes, assisted listening devices and audio description services will also be available.

“Helen Keller is Alabama’s most renowned daughters. We are proud to share with the world her story and impact. I know that a lot of thought and years of planning goes into putting together a quality production like this. The arts community undoubtedly adds so much value to our state and the world.”

Kay Ivey, Alabama Governor

The title, Touch, not only embodies the way she communicated but also the impact she had on others. Opera Birmingham has asked the outstanding American composer/librettist Carla Lucero and co-librettist Marianna Mott Newirth to work on this piece.

BONUS: The actor playing the role of Helen Keller will have an ensemble of six singers representing her voice—WOW.

Coming 2024

This opera will be all about connecting with a modern audience through a story about love, community and passion.

You can expect the world premiere to take place in Birmingham in January 2024, which will host a roundtable conversation, featuring the creators of the opera, guest speakers and community organizers.

This will bring national attention to the state of Alabama in a positive light and we can’t wait to see it.

Are you excited about this work? Tell us about it @TheBamaBuzz, we want to hear your thoughts.

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Summer Guffey

Lover of Weiss Lake in the summertime and camping at Cheaha in the autumn.

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