‘Black Flute’ from IN Series to screen free Friday on National Mall

Mozart's 'Magic Flute' reconceived with Black voices central to performance and production.

IN Series will screen the free premiere of its latest opera film, Black Flute, on Friday, October 8, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument on the National Mall. The timeless music of Mozart is brought into the moment with a script by local playwright Sybil Roberts and an updated libretto by Jarrod Lee. Filmed throughout Washington, DC,  in the city’s lush green spaces, the urban oases of Northwest, and at the Anacostia Playhouse, Black Flute recontextualizes the Enlightenment values of The Magic Flute in a time and place acutely aware of their inherent misogyny and racism, with an all-Black cast of characters grappling with this dissonance and determined to set it right.

Cast of ‘Black Flute’: William Powell III, Melissa Wimbish, Elise Christina Jenkins, Kristin Renee Young, Carl Dupont, and Edward Graves. Photo courtesy of IN Series.

Black Flute continues IN Series’ tradition of calling into question the operatic canon and the status quo of opera creation. While opera historically has been, and continues to be, predominantly the domain of wealthy white men, whose values are often reflected in plots that subjugate women and people of color and in music that exotifies and others non-European cultures and traditions, Black Flute proposes a revolutionary future for opera, in which Black voices are central to performance and production.

Edward Graves as Tamino in ‘Black Flute.’ Photo courtesy of IN Series.

The work features the contributions of the four artists selected this year for the IN Series Cardwell Dawson Artist Fellowship: Carl DuPont, Elise Christina Jenkins, Jarrod Lee, and Melissa Wimbish. Named for Mary Cardwell Dawson, who founded the National Negro Opera Company in the 1940s, the program is a four-year artist fellowship created by and for exceptional Black opera singers, creators, and advocates, meant to empower future leaders of the industry and radically change the space of opera. The fellows’ artistry is at the heart of this work: from concept, to design, to libretto, to performance.

Completing the cast are nationally renowned soprano Kristin Renee Young, bass William Powell III, tenor Edward Graves, and percussionist and dancer Jabari Exum. With Dr. Elizabeth Hill directing music from the piano, and acclaimed director KenYatta Rogers behind the camera, Black Flute creates a nonwhite space for opera and celebrates what Black creativity can do to elevate the form.

Tickets are not required to attend the premiere event at the Sylvan Theater (Independence Ave SW & 15th Street NW, Washington, DC), but online RSVPs are encouraged, to provide IN Series with an approximate headcount. Black Flute will also be available on-demand for free on INVISION starting later this season. Find it and all of IN Series’ digital productions at invision.inseries.org.

Cast of ‘Black Flute.’ Photo courtesy of IN Series.

Music by W. A. Mozart • English-language libretto by Jarrod Lee • Script by Sybil Roberts • Directed by KenYatta Rogers • Assisted by Michelle Rogers • Music Direction by Dr. Elizabeth Hill • Costume Design by Donna Breslin • Video Production by DMV Productions

Carl DuPont as Papageno
Edward Graves as Tamino
Elise Christina Jenkins as Papagena/Third Lady
William Powell III as Sarastro
Melissa Wimbish as Pamina/Second Lady
Kristin Renee Young as Queen of the Night/First Lady
And featuring: Jabari Exum, IN Series Cardwell Dawson Fellow

Streaming at invision.inseries.org, INVISION: The Logan Operahouse Without Walls is a first-of-its-kind multi-venue virtual performing arts center, which hosts innovative works of opera theater serving IN Series’ mission to “transform artists, audiences, and community by disrupting expectations, nourishing empathy, stimulating insight, and deepening the conversation.” Free subscriptions and premium memberships are available at https://invision.inseries.org/sign-up.


IN Series is the standard-bearer for innovative opera theater in Washington, DC. We make theater from music: transforming artists, audiences, and community by disrupting expectations, nourishing empathy, stimulating insight, and deepening the conversation. IN Series envisions a thriving global community in which opera is a fully integrated and essential part of collective conversation. In picturing the journey to this end, IN Series is a change-maker — a force that, with each groundbreaking production and outreach event, radically transforms perceptions of the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “why” of opera: who gets to make opera and for whom is it made; what is defined as an operatic experience; where operas take place; why we make opera; and why opera matters.

Founded by Carla Hübner in 1982 as a concert series of the former Mount Vernon College, “The In Series” became an independent nonprofit arts organization in 2000 and has been a resident company at Source Theater since 2008. Timothy Nelson assumed the artistic directorship in 2018, quickly establishing the newly rebranded “IN Series” as DC’s home for “Thought, debate, history, and innovation” (DC Theater Arts) in opera.

IN Series’s 2020–2021 season is made possible in part by major funding from the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz, Dallas Morse Coors, the Billy Rose Foundations; the Angell Foundation; Dan and Gloria Logan; the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts. We also gratefully recognize the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies; the Celtino Foundation, the Dimick Foundation, Eugene Lang, Reva and David Logan, and M&T Bank.

SEE ALSO: IN Series sets season of live theater centering DEI


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