Met Live Opera: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X


Mary D. Fisher Theatre Sat, Nov 18 11:00 AM
Mary D. Fisher Theatre Wed, Nov 22 3:00 PM
Film Info
Event Type:Met Live Opera
Run Time:3 hours, 42 minutes
Met Company
Conductor:Kazem Abdullah
Opera Company:Leah Hawkins (Louise/Betty)
Raehann Bryce-Davis (Ella)
Victor Ryan Robertson (Elijah/Street)
Will Liverman (Malcolm)
Michael Sumuel (Reginald)
Production:Robert O’Hara
Set Designer:Clint Ramos
Costume Designer:Dede Ayite
Lighting Designer:Alex Jainchill
Yee Eun Nam (Projection Designer)
Choreographer:Rickey Tripp


Anthony Davis’s
X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

Librettist: Thulani Davis

Live: Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11:00 a.m.
Encore: Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 3:00 p.m.

There will be a pre-opera talk led by Russ Fox one hour before the LIVE performance on Saturday.

Kazem Abdullah (Conductor), Leah Hawkins (Louise/Betty), Raehann Bryce-Davis (Ella), Victor Ryan Robertson (Elijah/Street), Will Liverman (Malcolm), Michael Sumuel (Reginald)

Anthony Davis’s groundbreaking opera, which premiered in 1986, arrives at the Met at long last. Robert O’Hara, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 2020 for his direction of Slave Play, oversees a new staging that imagines Malcolm as an everyman whose story transcends time and space.

A cast of breakout artists take part in the operatic retelling of Malcom X’s life. Baritone Will Liverman, who triumphed in the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, sings Malcolm. Soprano Leah Hawkins plays his mother, Louise; mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis is his sister Ella; bass-baritone Michael Sumuel is his brother Reginald; and tenor Victor Ryan Robertson is the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Kazem Abdullah conducts the newly revised score, which provides a layered, jazz-inflected setting for the esteemed writer Thulani Davis’s libretto.

Rev. Little is late to a meeting at his home. His wife, Louise, is haunted by past white-supremacist attacks. A policeman says that Rev. Little was killed in a streetcar accident, but the neighbors ponder what may have really happened. Malcolm tries to reach his mother. His older half-sister takes him to Boston, where he is introduced to the local after-hours life. He gets involved with a group who rob a home and is arrested. Malcolm reveals his anger over the troubles that have plagued people like him.

Reginald tells Malcolm about Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm studies the Nation’s teachings. Malcolm X is born. Elijah embraces Malcolm like a son. Malcolm begins his ministry and defines his own political position. He is asked about John F. Kennedy’s death and makes a remark lacking in sensitivity. Elijah is enraged. Malcolm and Betty express the hope that their children will be free to dream without fear.

Elijah is disturbed that the Nation’s spokesman has put the organization in jeopardy and that he has become too powerful. He silences Malcolm for three months. Betty tells Malcolm to go to Mecca, where he tries to learn the orthodox rituals. He has a larger vision of people across the world united in faith. He returns to Harlem a changed man. He delivers a speech before his own newly formed group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, and disregards threats of assassination. Arriving at the Audubon Ballroom to speak, he is gunned down.

Content Advisory: “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” contains strong language.

The 2023-2024 Met Live Opera season in Sedona is generously sponsored by Bea Hanks, Chris Fladlien and Jim Dunne.

The season is dedicated in loving memory to Marc DuCharme.