‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ opera featured on Cedille Records’ ‘Notorious RBG in Song’
Scalia/Ginsburg, the American opera by Derrick Wang that ushered in an era of Ruth Bader Ginsburg-themed books, film, and art, is featured on Cedille Records’ new album Notorious RBG in Song, honoring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her 25 years of service on the nation’s highest court. The album will be released on June 8, 2018.
Performed by soprano Patrice Michaels — who also composed the album’s anchor work (The Long View: A Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Nine Songs) — and pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, Notorious RBG in Song finishes on a high note (literally) with the premiere recording of Derrick Wang’s “You Are Searching in Vain for a Bright-Line Solution,” an aria [song] from Scalia/Ginsburg inspired by the writings of Justice Ginsburg.
Often quoted by Justice Ginsburg in interviews, “You Are Searching in Vain for a Bright-Line Solution” was first performed at the Supreme Court in June 2013 for Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, in a presentation introduced on National Public Radio. Like a Supreme Court opinion, the music draws on historical influences to express a contemporary legal viewpoint:
You are searching in vain for a bright-line solution
To a problem that isn’t so easy to solve —
But the beautiful thing about our Constitution
Is that, like our society, it can evolve.
The American Interest, reviewing the 2015 world premiere of Scalia/Ginsburg at the Castleton Festival, described this song as “a more freely-structured aria [than Justice Scalia’s], with lots of ascending scales, that quoted [jazz] and swing music: It was race- and class-conscious, self-consciously feminist, aspirational, and attuned to changing times. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with that characterization of her politics or not—that’s how Ginsburg sees herself, so that’s how the music portrays her. And that’s good opera.”
In his album notes, producer James Ginsburg, son of Justice Ginsburg, writes: “[I]t was such a thrill to see an opera with Mom as one of its subjects — Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg — since Mom has always said her dream would have been to be a great opera diva, had God given her that talent. The aria ‘You Are Searching in Vain for a Bright-Line Solution’ not only represents Mom’s Constitutional philosophy perfectly, it also allows [soprano] Patrice [Michaels] to show off her vocal chops in a wide variety of styles including coloratura, jazz, and gospel.”
Notorious RBG in Song also features music by composers Lori Laitman, Vivian Fung, and Stacy Garrop, to texts by Emily Dickinson, Jane Ginsburg, and Martin D. Ginsburg.