“Students taking classes across the broad range of our undergraduate curriculum—from music, theater, and media to political science, theology, and more—saw their coursework come to life through the Met’s world-renowned productions,” said Laura Auricchio, Ph.D., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center.
First-Timers at the Opera
Most recently, nearly 200 students attended X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, a musical interpretation of the life of the iconic civil rights leader. Among the students was Cambria Martinez, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill who studies communications and culture. The Nov. 14 performance was her first time at an opera.
“The closest I’ve ever gotten is listening to one song from The Phantom of the Opera,” she said, chuckling.
Martinez attended the performance as part of the course Photography, Identity, Power. “It’s about visuals and how we can use specific artistic mediums to tell a deeper, more powerful story,” she said. “[In X] I think of the scene … an empty stage with just the chair that had fallen, and we all knew that was a symbol of [Malcolm’s] anger, his rage. … How does that simple visual mean something greater to the rest of us?”
For Allison Anwalimhobor, a junior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center who majors in political science and minors in music, the event was an opportunity to experience not only her first opera, but one that pushed the boundaries of the art form.
“Musically, it was very different because the opera wasn’t very traditional, from what I understand,” said Anwalimhobor, who attended the opera as part of a classical vocal instruction course. “It was nice to get acquainted with a new genre and style of music.”
A Longstanding Relationship
Fordham has long held ties to the Met Opera. Ever since the famed opera house opened its doors at Lincoln Center in 1966, scores of students and staff have attended its shows, including the men’s basketball team. Others have participated in conversations surrounding the performances, including President Tania Tetlow, who recently welcomed members of the Met’s Dead Man Walking to a poignant discussion about the opera, art, and faith. In addition, former members of the Fordham community have worked with the opera house, including Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, dancer Erin Moore, FCLC ’05, director Michael Mayer, and Bronx Arts Ensemble founder William Scribner.
Through a new initiative, hundreds of members of the Fordham community were able to experience the grandeur of the Met Opera this year. Using funds from Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s endowment from the Mellon Foundation, the FCLC Office of the Dean, Center on Religion and Culture, and the Office of Government Relations and Urban Affairs worked together to purchase group tickets for four productions, including Dialogues de Carmélites and Champion, and distribute them to courses whose curriculum intersects with the opera.
This fall, for example, students saw a dress rehearsal of Dead Man Walking, which is based on a bestselling memoir written by a nun who tries to save the soul of a condemned murderer. The tickets were given to courses that touch on the topic of capital punishment or faith. Students were also given copies of the original bestselling book by Sister Helen Prejean.
Encouraging Students to ‘Embrace the Arts’
For Samuel Scriven, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, attending the Met Opera was nothing new. (He had already attended the Met twice.) What was different this time around was the contemporary nature of X—the avant-garde musical choices, jazz elements, and political commentary—and the groundbreaking nature of the performance itself, he said.
“Now we have the Met making intentional choices to put the work of Black composers on stage. That hadn’t happened in Met history until 2021,” said Scriven, a music major who attended X through the course Music in the Modernist Age.
“I was really glad that [Fordham] wanted to take advantage of the fact that the opera is right next door to us—and arguably one of the best performance stages in the world for this kind of thing,” Scriven said. “I’m glad to know that they want to encourage us students to embrace the arts.”