Opera Philadelphia premiere remembers city’s 1985 MOVE tragedy

Posted on: September 20, 2017

We Shall Not Be Moved is a new opera that takes its name from both the old spiritual-turned-civil-rights anthem and the Philadelphia black liberation group, MOVE,” reports Jeff Lunden at National Public Radio on Sunday (9/17). “That group might be best-remembered for a 1985 tragedy: A police helicopter bombed the MOVE house, and the resulting fire killed 11 people and destroyed 62 homes in the neighborhood. The opera, presented by Opera Philadelphia with the Apollo Theater, had its world premiere Sept. 16. It revisits that house and its ghosts, while remaining centered on stories about young people in Philadelphia today…. ‘I’ve heard one person say that the bombing of the MOVE house was like a Sept. 11 event for … people in the city of Philly,’ [librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph] says…. ‘They experienced a collective trauma.’ So, he and his collaborators—composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and director and choreographer Bill T. Jones—tread carefully. They were inspired by poems created through a teen workshop sponsored by Opera Philadelphia and a local non-profit…. Roumain says he drew on everything from Bach to Gladys Knight to Eminem while composing We Shall Not Be Moved.”

Posted September 20, 2017