Originally launched in 2007, Hip H’opera is a collaborative program between Art Sanctuary and Opera Philadelphia. The three-phase project takes teaching artists and workshops to more than 100 students and their teachers in three schools. They learn the history and aesthetics of hip-hop and opera, genres that use the human voice to tell profound stories, and then, using poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, these students capture their own urban stories.
The initial pieces, which premiered in 2008, were work shopped with young librettists, and then performed, first as poetry by the teens, then in musical form by opera singers, a string quartet, a pianist, and intergenerational chorus. Hip-H’Opera sold out two local performances.
In 2013, the students’ writings were used as inspiration for a new opera for a professional production in October 2017. Students have opportunities to work with world-renowned composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and spoken word artist and dancer/choreographer Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the opera’s librettist, and director, Bill T. Jones and get to see the work in progress. Hip H’opera is expected to become a national model for bridging genres and bringing new energy to inner-city music study.
Hip H’opera is made possible with support from The John S. And James L. Knight Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation.