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Justice Ginsburg Finally Gets to Star in an Opera

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

She's not fat and she's not singing, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will soon become the star of an opera. The Supreme Court Justice and well-known opera fan is set to debut as the Duchess of Krakenthorp in Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment," the Washington National Opera announced last Friday.

RBG will be performing as the Notorious Duchess of Krakenthorp for one night only, though, so be sure to get your tickets in advance.

Show Stealer

"While the opera is best known for the vocal acrobatics required of its singers, the high-comedy antics of the non-singing role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp often steal the show," the opera said in a statement announcing Justice Ginsburg's casting.

"The Daughter of the Regiment" tells the tale, in French, of Marie, a young woman who was found abandoned on the battlefield as a child and raised by a group of French grenadiers. Marie falls in love with a peasant, but her budding romance is halted when the Marquise of Birkenfeld arrives. The Marquise claims to be Marie's aunt and sweeps Marie off to her chateau, and away from her love, in order to educate her on ladylike manners -- and prep her for marriage to the Duke of Krakenthorp.

The Duchess has only a speaking role, which is probably for the better. Justice Ginsburg does not have a very good singing voice, she says.

From Supernumerary to Star

This isn't the justice's true opera debut, however. Justice Ginsburg has been a supernumerary (that's opera-speak for "extra") in several productions, including a 1994 production of "Ariadne auf Naxos" and 2003's "Die Fledermaus." In 2009, Justice Ginsburg again acted as a supernumerary in "Ariadne auf Naxos," this time with Justice Antonin Scalia by her side.

Justice Ginsburg has also starred in an opera before, though as a character. Last summer, law school grad and composer Derrick Wang mounted an opera called "Scalia/Ginsburg." The one act production was probably the first (and still only) opera to cite Shelby County v. Holder. (The libretto was published in the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts.)

But if you want to see the Justice herself in the operatic spotlight, your only chance is "The Daughter of the Regiment"'s debut, on November 12th. After that, she's back to her day job.

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