The world premiere of the opera, “Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage,” about Fayetteville suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage, is set for Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Carrier Theater, Civic Center. (submitted photo)
The world premiere of the opera, “Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage,” is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Carrier Theater, Civic Center, Syracuse. Witness the story of Matilda Joslyn Gage, the lesser known third member of the “triumvirate” of early women’s suffragists — the other two being Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
The opera tells how they came together in the early 1850s then had their great split in 1890, resulting in Matilda being “pushed aside,” and right out of the history books. Along the way, we also discover how Matilda fought for others who had been pushed aside, including African-Americans and Native Americans, and how she came to believe that all freedom struggles are equal and interconnected.
This opera tells the story of a woman of courage and integrity publicly defying 19th century laws that forced complicity with slavery and denied women their autonomy and liberty and the right to vote. This story shines a light on a remarkable corner of the world known as Central New York that became a hub of free thought and radical activism for ending slavery and promoting Native American rights as well as social justice.
The Society for New Music commissioned Ithaca-based composer Persis Parshall Vehar to write this opera. The libretto by Gabrielle Vehar brings to life a pivotal period in CNY history, chronicling Gage’s contributions during the first third of this three-generation battle for equal rights for women.
This fully-staged production with orchestra is made possible in part with funds from the Central New York Community Foundation.
Several in the cast are CNY natives who have performed nationally and internationally. Danan Tsan sings the lead role of Matilda, Laura Enslin portrays Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Juliane Price plays Susan B. Anthony, Syracuse native Gregory Sheppard handles both the role of John, runaway slave and Frederick Douglass; Syracuse native Jonathan Howell sings Dr. Isaac Thomas, with Syracuse native Julia Ebner and Buffalo native Steven Stull playing Maud Gage Baum and L. Frank Baum, respectively, in scenes that open and close the opera, scenes that frame the action. In addition, an Oneida Nation singer, Jennifer Stevens, will assume the role of Dr. Electa Thomas.
Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students/seniors and are available via paypal at societyfornewmusic.org/concerts.cfm, or call the Society at 315-251-1151.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.