Funny…sweet and touching…
Could we please make it a constitutional requirement that no one can be sworn into office in the White House or Congress without having first seen Scalia/Ginsburg?
— Los Angeles Times

Justice will be sung.

Scalia/Ginsburg

American comic opera in one act
by Derrick Wang • Libretto by the composer

inspired by the opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia

and by the “operatic precedent” of Händel, Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Sullivan, Puccini, Strauss, et al.

Illustration by Jeff Dionise / ABA Journal

Illustration by Jeff Dionise / ABA Journal


VIDEO: Derrick Wang speaks at TEDxBroadway, sharing his journey with Scalia/Ginsburg from the Supreme Court to the stage.



SUMMARY

Scalia/Ginsburg is an American comic opera by Derrick Wang about law, music, and the power of friendship in a divided world.

Scalia/Ginsburg received its world premiere production in July 2015 at Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival, where the opera’s innovative fusion of law and opera was hailed by both the musical and legal worlds as: 

MSNBC reports that Justice Ginsburg attended and said, “I had a wonderful time. I loved every minute of it.



WORLDWIDE MEDIA

Scalia/Ginsburg has been featured extensively in worldwide media, including an NPR exclusive at the Supreme Court by Nina Totenberg, a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal, a three-page feature in the Süddeutsche Zeitung [Germany’s largest national subscription daily newspaper], and articles and interviews in outlets including the ABA Journal, The American Interest, Associated Press (AP), Bloomberg, Deutsche Presse-AgenturThe EconomistThe Los Angeles Times, MSNBCThe New RepublicOpera TodayDer Standard [Austria], and The Washington PostScalia/Ginsburg has also been a featured topic on the ABC TV program Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.


LIBRETTO [SCRIPT]

The libretto of Scalia/Ginsburg is published in the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, with prefaces by Justices Ginsburg and Scalia themselves. In the spirit of “operatic precedent,” the libretto contains over 200 footnotes by composer-librettist Derrick Wang to legal and musical sources.

The Justices are blind!
How can they possibly spout this?
The Constitution says absolutely nothing about this!
— “The Justices are blind!”
[Justice Scalia’s opening aria]
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.
— “You are searching in vain (for a bright-line solution)”
[Justice Ginsburg’s aria]

HISTORY

Selections from Scalia/Ginsburg were presented at the Supreme Court of the United States in June 2013. Excerpts from Scalia/Ginsburg have been presented by the Washington National Opera, Glimmerglass FestivalCastleton FestivalMaryland Opera StudioNational Constitution Center, Second Circuit Judicial Conference (co-sponsored by Columbia Law School, with artists from Opera Saratoga), and Stanford Arts Institute & Stanford Law School.

Production

  • Castleton Festival (World Premiere Production: July 1117, & 19, 2015)

PRESENTATIONS


PLOT

Get the inside scoop on Derrick Wang's new opera Scalia/Ginsburg from Justice Ginsburg herself! #OperaConf

Posted by OPERA America on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What happens when Supreme Court justices go before a Higher Power? In this comic opera, Justices Ginsburg and Scalia must pass through three cosmic trials to secure their freedom. The catch: they may have to agree on the Constitution. Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg is a valentine to law and opera, where the law’s leading players go toe-to-toe and trill-to-trill in a (gentle) parody of operatic proportions. Opinions will be offered. Dissents will be delivered. And justice will be sung.


Style

A buddy comedy with an operatic twist, Scalia/Ginsburg reflects the witty style of its subjects by applying the novel technique of “operatic precedent.” Just as a court opinion analyzes previous cases to develop a new decision, the score of Scalia/Ginsburg revels in references to beloved operas, transforming them into new and effervescent commentaries on music and law.


Audience

By presenting current legal issues in a concise and entertaining manner, Scalia/Ginsburg aims to reach new audiences for opera. Moreover, by dramatizing the friendship of two justices with (frequently) opposing viewpoints, Scalia/Ginsburg aims to encourage nuanced discussion of issues faced by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, through its playful reference to famous operas of the past, Scalia/Ginsburg appeals to frequent and first-time operagoers alike. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Genre – Comic opera
Acts – One act
Duration – ca. 60-65 min.* 
Cast – 3 principals; no chorus

  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, soprano
  • Justice Antonin Scalia, tenor
  • The Commentator, bass-baritone

Language – English
Orchestra – 2.2.2.2/2.2.3.0/timp.perc.pno.hp./str.**  

*Depending on audience reactions. 
**Standard wind doublings. To inquire about a chamber orchestration, contact us.



PRAISE

Etaoin
— Shrdlu

“SUPREME COURT OPINIONS” ON SCALIA/GINSBURG

It was wonderful.
— Antonin Scalia (2013 NPR interview)
We both loved it.
— Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2013 Chautauqua Daily article)
I liked it very much.
— Stephen G. Breyer (2014 Q&A for National Constitution Center)