A Supreme Opera

HLB-f15-17300

Credit: European PressPhoto Agency

Just about two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its last opinion for the 2014-2015 term, the words of two of its justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’56-’58 and Antonin Scalia ’60, once again took center stage—this time coming out of the mouths of opera singers.

“Scalia/Ginsburg,” a comic opera by Derrick Wang, had its world premiere at the Castleton Festival in Rappahannock County, Virginia, on July 11. Justice Scalia (portrayed by tenor John Overholt, pictured above) has to pass through a series of supernatural trials (inspired by Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”), and he does so with the assistance of his colleague and frequent intellectual adversary Justice Ginsburg (soprano Ellen Wieser). It’s been called “an affectionate, comic look at the unofficial leaders of [the Court’s] conservative and liberal wings,” and draws on their decisions, their differing views of the Constitution—and their friendship.

They often attend opera together, and among those in the audience for the premiere was Justice Ginsburg herself. (The real Justice Scalia was in Rome that evening.)