Seattle Opera to Present ‘X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X’

By David Salazar

Seattle Opera is set to present “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” this February.

The famed opera by Thulani Davis and Anthony Davis will be presented in a production by Robert O’Hara and stars Kenneth Kellogg in the title role. He is joined by Joshua Stewart, Joshua Conyers, Leah Hawkins, Ronnita Miller, and Allison Pohl, among others. Kazem Abdullah conducts.

“Malcolm X is one of the most important, yet misrepresented, figures in recent US history,” said General Director Christina Scheppelmann in an official press statement. “In light of America’s ongoing reckoning with racial injustice—past and present—the time is right for us to revisit his life and legacy. There is perhaps no better art form than opera to explore a life of such cultural and historical significance, and it is long past time that this work, written nearly 40 years ago by a pivotal figure in American music, finally gets the attention it deserves.”

The opera recently debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in O’Hara’s production, receiving strong reviews. OperaWire’s Chris Ruel noted that “The Metropolitan Opera’s 2023-24 season unfurled a tapestry of music, history, and Afrofuturistic magical realism with Broadway producer Robert O’Hara’s “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” composed by Anthony Davis, to a libretto by Thulani Davis, based on a story by Christopher Davis. The Met, traditionally a bastion of opera’s classic repertoire, transformed into a forum for reflection on social justice, equal rights, and the ongoing danger of police brutality or vigilante justice that Black Americans continue to face. It was an evening with profound impact.”