RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Opera and Richmond Symphony have announced the subject of their newest opera, the groundbreaking United States Supreme Court Case: Loving v. Virginia.
The operatic retelling will tell the story of the revolutionary case that centered around the interracial marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving. In 1958 the couple was sentenced to prison for their marriage, which was illegal in Virginia at the time due to the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. When appealed, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the couple’s conviction, but almost ten years later, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided to overturn their conviction in 1967.
Loving v. Virginia is seen as a major victory for civil rights in the United States and was cited as precedent in the 2015 decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage.
The opera will be premiered in venues across Virginia in 2025, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the Virginia Opera. The project is spearheaded by composer Damien Geter, and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo.
“Mildred and Richard Loving made my own family possible. What an honor and responsibility it is to be part of a team telling their story,” Murphy Moo said. “Think for a moment about what they achieved—they were only two people and yet they stood up to legalized racism and enacted lasting change. Their story is an inspiration. And it’s also an opera! The vision they were working toward—equality, home, love—these subjects are part of opera’s vast terrain. I know that composer Damien Geter’s music will make us all feel—in new ways—the weight and importance of the Lovings’ contribution to racial justice in America.”