To mark the centenary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the re-opening of New York State’s oldest surviving theater, Hudson Hall in partnership with The Millay Colony for the Arts has commissioned a new production of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s rarely performed opera The Mother of Us All. Using real and imagined characters, The Mother of Us All is about Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Suffrage Movement in America, which began in upstate New York. Anthony spoke twice on the very stage where this opera will be performed.
The young and visionary stage director R. B. Schlather reimagines this two-act opera as a musical theater pageant, performed by a vocal and instrumental ensemble of Hudson Valley residents, and starring the mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens in the lead role. His team of collaborators include the renowned Stein scholar and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor Emerita of Humanities at Bard College Joan Retallack. Together they are planning a series of public spectacles and salons in response to the building’s history as a space for civic exchange, and to provide essential commentary on who we are today as women, people of color, queers, activists, rural residents, and ultimately, individuals with the right to gather, voice our beliefs, and be represented with respect and equality–themes that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.