The Summer King
Composer: Daniel Sonenberg
Librettist: Daniel Nester
Original Cast: Roles: HELEN, Soprano; GRACE, Mezzo-Soprano; ELDER BARBER’S WIFE, Mezzo-Soprano; ELDER BARBER, Tenor; SEÑOR ALCALDE, Tenor; TRASH-TALKING BATTER, Tenor; RADIO ANNOUNCER, Tenor; JOSH GIBSON (JOSH), Baritone; YOUNGER BARBER, Baritone; SAM BANKHEAD, Bass Baritone; Barbershop Patron; Ballgame Spectators; Fellow Players; Joe DiMaggio
Premiere Date: April 29, 2017
Producing Company: Pittsburgh Opera
Description: The Summer King tells the story of baseball legend Josh Gibson. Josh went from the sandlots of Pittsburgh’s North Side to the pinnacle of greatness in the Negro Leagues, before ultimately being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

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Comments: Detailed Scene Breakdown
The Summer King is an opera in two acts based on the life of Josh Gibson, one of the greatest Negro League baseball players. A home run hitting catcher, Gibson was often called the Black Babe Ruth, and had a career spanning from the late 1920s until his death in 1947, only several months before Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color barrier. At the time of his death, Gibson, though only 35 years old, was addled with injuries, and suffered from what may have been a brain tumor. Reports say that near the end of his life he was overheard having boisterous conversations with an imaginary Joe DiMaggio. Had he lived and maintained his health, he almost certainly would have had the opportunity to spend some of his late career in the white major leagues, as the best of his Negro League colleagues did. The opera examines the importance of Gibson’s legacy as a ballplayer and a historical figure. Although Gibson had neither the temperament nor the youth to play Jackie Robinson’s ultimate role, he was centrally responsible for the Negro League’s immense popularity and high level of play – and as such, paved the way for the era of integrated baseball. Having hit over 800 homeruns in his career, he died young, almost forgotten, without witnessing or enjoying the fruits of his labor.

659.jpg is a photo of The Summer King
Length: 02:00
Total Acts: 2
Musical Style: The opera uses overlapping musical language of dissonant tonalities and buoyant melody.
Contact: American Opera Projects
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Phone: 718-398-4024
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