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A New Opera Explores Legacy of John Brown

Nearly 150 years after his death, abolitionist John Brown remains a controversial figure; some consider him a martyr, others view him as a terrorist. A new opera, written by a native Kansan, aims to explore the complexity of John Brown's character and his legacy. For John Brown photos, check here.

By Laura Spencer


Kansas City, MO – In the mid-1800s, the Kansas territory became a battleground for pro and anti-slavery forces. John Brown made it his mission to abolish slavery by any means necessary. After a failed attempt in 1859 to raid a federal arsenal and arm slaves with the weapons, Brown was tried for treason and hung.

A new opera, written by native Kansan and composer Kirke Mechem, aims to explore the complexity of John Brown's character and spark more of a conversation about how he's viewed today.

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents
John Brown by Kirke Mechem
Sat., May 3, 2008 - 8:00pm
Mon., May 5 - 7:30pm
Wed., May 7 - 7:30pm
Fri., May 9 - 8:00pm
Sun., May 11 - 2:00pm

An exhibition, inspired by the John Brown opera, called "An Evolution in Perspective" continues through May 10, 2008 at the Robert Frazier Gallery of Contemporary Art, 3120 Troost, Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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