Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Anthony Davis’s groundbreaking opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, will premiere at The Metropolitan Opera on 3 November 2023, marking the second of six new productions in the 2023–24 season.
The influential opera, which first premiered in 1986, is newly staged by Tony-nominated director of Slave Play, Robert O’Hara, who imagines Malcolm as an everyman whose story transcends space and time. With a libretto by Thulani Davis and story by Christopher Davis, the opera explores how one man’s fight to define his life on his own terms becomes a battle cry for justice for an entire people.
Conductor Kazem Abdullah conducts the newly revised score, which features a layered, jazz-inflected setting for this powerful historical drama. The cast stars Grammy Award–winning baritone Will Liverman, who triumphed in the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, as Malcolm, alongside soprano Leah Hawkins as his mother, Louise, and wife, Betty; mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as his sister Ella; bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as his brother Reginald; and tenor Victor Ryan Robertson as Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.
X follows Malcolm’s journey from his original identity as Malcom Little, born to Reverend Earl Little and his wife, Louise, in Lansing, Michigan, to Malcolm X after he studies and accepts the teachings of the Nation of Islam, and beyond. The opera represents X’s life as one of boundless evolution, whose messages of Black self-sufficiency and self-determination were often at odds with the mainstream but continue to resonate today.
Led by O’Hara, the creative team also includes set designer Clint Ramos, costume designer Dede Ayite, lighting designer Alex Jainchill, projection designer Yee Eun Nam, wig designer Mia Neal, and choreographer Rickey Tripp—all in their Met debuts.
The performance of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X on Saturday 18 November 2023 will be transmitted live to cinemas around the globe as part of the Met’s Live in HD series.
Following the season premiere on November 3, seven additional performances run through December 2.