In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts will present a new music-theatre piece, “Rappahannock County,” Sept.13–15, 7:30 p.m., in Alice Jepson Theatre.
Drawn from diaries, letters and personal accounts, this fictional song cycle explores the war’s impact, from secession to defeat, on a community of Virginians—black and white, rich and poor, soldiers and nurses, widows and survivors. A multi-media event, the production incorporates projections of Matthew Brady’s renowned Civil War photography, illustrations, documents and other moving visuals. Five principal singers perform more than 30 roles, backed by an ensemble of 17 musicians.
Co-commissioned by the Modlin Center, “Rappahannock County” premiered in April at the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk. The creative team includes composer Ricky Ian Gordon, creator of the Obie Award-winning “Orpheus and Euridice” and the acclaimed opera “The Grapes of Wrath,” and Broadway librettist-lyricist Mark Stephen Campbell, (“Volpone,” “Later Same Evening” and “Songs from an Unmade Bed”).
Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and historian of the American South, served as creative adviser. The team drew inspiration from Ayers’ award-winning book, “In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863,” which tells the story of one Northern and one Southern community during the war.
“Ricky and Mark evoked, in a way I’ve never seen before, the war’s realities for
a wide range of characters. Their music and lyrics are powerful and telling,”
“The personal is political. The piece brings the sense of a lens closing in on a spectrum of individuals and their feelings around slavery and morality in a profound and poignant way. The cunning libretto by Mark Campbell beautifully shows what everyone has to lose,” said Gordon.
Along with the Modlin Center, the commissioning partners are the Virginia Arts Festival, the Virginia Opera and Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
Tickets are $45, with discounts for seniors (age 62 and older) and children (age 12 and younger), and are available online at modlin.richmond.edu, at the Modlin Center box office or by phone at 804-289-8980.
Box office hours are 2–5 p.m. weekdays through August, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays in September, and 90 minutes prior to performances. For more information, contact the box office at 804-289-8980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit modlin.richmond.edu for updates on related events and activities.