Classical community remembers Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her passion for opera

Posted on: September 21, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (accompanied by the tenor Lawrence Brownlee) after appearing in a speaking role in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment at Washington National Opera in 2016. Photo by Scott Suchman / Washington National Opera

“When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death was announced on Friday evening, tributes quickly began flowing from an unlikely source: opera singers,” writes Francesca Zambello in Saturday’s (9/19) New York Times. Zambello is the Glimmerglass Festival’s general director and Washington National Opera’s artistic director. “Many prominent people attend the opera occasionally, but Justice Ginsburg was almost an obsessive…. It was a love she shared with Antonin Scalia, her Supreme Court colleague, friend and ideological antagonist; in 2015, an opera, ‘Scalia/Ginsburg,’ was even written about their relationship.” In an interview, Zambello says, “I remember after Kurt Weill’s ‘Lost in the Stars’ at Glimmerglass, being next to her and her just being visibly shaken and weeping from one of Eric Owens’s greatest performances…. If I didn’t see her after the performance, I’d always get an email the next morning…. We had to cancel our fall season [at Washington National Opera] but we were going to open with a new production of ‘Fidelio.’ I told her I was doing it for her, as a gift.” Bader Ginsburg is survived by her daughter, Jane, a law professor, and her son, James, the founder and president of Cedille Records, based in Chicago.