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Historic ‘Loving v. Virginia’ court case to become subject of new opera

Mildred and Richard Loving
Mildred and Richard Loving
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The groundbreaking ‘Loving v. Virginia’ court case around the interracial marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving is set to be the subject of a new opera.

The Virginia Opera and Richmond Symphony announced that composer Damien Geter and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo will take charge of bringing the story to stages across Virginia in 2025.

“As a native Virginian, the historical significance of Loving v. Virginia has remained with me since I was a teenager, but I’m finding there are many who are unfamiliar with this landmark case. Coming back home to Virginia and collaborating with Virginia Opera (the company where I first experienced opera) and working with Jessica Murphy Moo to tell the story of Mildred and Richard Loving is important not only for the sake of honoring their legacy, but also for ensuring the future of the art form,” Geter said.

Mildred and Richard were sentenced to prison in 1958 for marrying each other, which was illegal in Virginia due to its Racial Integrity Act of 1924.

“Having appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which upheld the conviction, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overturning their conviction in 1967,” a release said.

The victory was also cited as precedent in the 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

“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. 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,” Murphy Moo said.

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