Anthony Davis’s ‘The Central Park Five’ Wins Pulitzer Prize

By David Salazar
(Credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

Composer Anthony Davis has won the Pulitzer Prize for his opera “The Central Park Five.”

The jury called the work “a courageous operatic work, marked by powerful vocal writing and sensitive orchestration, that skillfully transforms a notorious example of contemporary injustice into something empathetic and hopeful.”

“The Central Park Five,” which has a libretto by Richard Wesley, had its world premiere at Long Beach Opera in June 2019 after being reworked from another opera known as “Five,” which had first appeared in 2016.

In his review of the production, Operawire’s Gordon Williams noted “I note that this is an opera review where I’ve been grappling with social issues rather than evaluating portamento or coloratura. I also know that from now on, from this experience and DuVernay’s mini-series, I will remember the names of the “Central Park Five.”

The opera tells the story of 1989 conviction of five African-America and Latino teenagers for the rape and assault of a white woman in Central Park. They were eventually left off the charges in 2002 when a serial rapist admitted to the crime.