Opera Goes to Church!

 The choirs of Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, and Southern Baptist Church joined voices for Opera Goes to Church.

The choirs of Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, and Southern Baptist Church joined voices for Opera Goes to Church.

It was an Opera Goes to Church first this past weekend—three consecutive nights at the same venue. Nearly 3,500 were in attendance to hear a combined choir featuring singers from three different Cincinnati-area churches—Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, and Southern Baptist Church—along with opera soloists soprano Kimwana Doner and tenor Albert Lee.

The event was hosted by the always affable, always dapper Courtis Fuller from WLWT-TV. Having been with the program from its start, he’s served as host for all of the nearly 40 Opera Goes to Church events we’ve produced so far.

Opera Goes to Church is a one-of-a-kind program that brings together choirs from diverse churches and internationally renowned singers, along with featured local jazz ensembles. The program’s founding producer is Tracy Wilson, Cincinnati Opera’s director of community relations, who continues to grow the program with fresh ideas and an expanding number of participating churches. For her, it’s all about bringing people together.

 Soloists tenor Albert Lee and soprano Kimwana Doner

Soloists tenor Albert Lee and soprano Kimwana Doner

The three concerts this past weekend (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) were at Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church in Woodlawn. The program featured the same selections from the choirs and opera soloists each night. I attended the Friday evening performance. It was uplifting, joyful, and the parking lot was as full as Easter Sunday. 

For me, the final performance of the night captured the energy and spirit of the event perfectly. It was led by A. Michael Cunningham, Minister of Music for New Jerusalem. And it was his own arrangement of “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel.” It was bursting with intensity and elation. I’d heard it first a few years ago. I was wowed at the time and was wowed again that night.

The next OG2C program will be held on June 4 at Allen Temple AME Church, where the program was launched in 2006. Alas, all tickets for that performance have been distributed. 

-Chris Milligan