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African American Experiences in Opera

About the Opera

The Central Park Five Cover

Composed by Anthony Davis and written by Richard Wesley, The Central Park Five opera tells the story of five African American and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping and assaulting a woman in Central Park, New York, in 1989. After spending years in prison, the teenagers were exonerated through DNA evidence.

The opera was commissioned by Long Beach Opera in 2019. Davis draws from jazz, contemporary classical, R&B, and hip-hop.

The opera was commissioned by Long Beach Opera in 2019 and received a Pulitzer Prize in 2020.

Performances and Interviews

Reviews and Analysis

Cooper, Michael. "This Summer, Opera Grapples With Race." New York Times (May 30, 2019). 

Swed, Mark. "Review: Anthony Davis' opera 'The Central Park Five' goes where Netflix doesn't dare." Los Angeles Times. (June 17, 2019).

The Central Park Five. New York City Opera. Retrieved August 10, 2023, from

Varga, George. "UCSD professor Anthony Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for fiery opera 'The Central Park Five." San Diego Union Tribune. (May 5, 2020).