Ellington’s Opera Gets New Production

Duke Ellington added more than 3,000 songs to the American music vault before his death in 1974. He also started composing what he hoped would be a great American street opera. It is called “Queenie Pie,” and composers have spent 40 years adapting it, trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus. “Queenie Pie” has been performed only a handful of times over the decades. Karen Marie Richardson plays the title character in the latest production, from Long Beach Opera. (It moves to Chicago Opera Theater Feb. 15-March 5.) The opera tells the story of Queenie Pie, a Harlem beautician voted the best in town for years on end until she’s challenged by a lighter-skinned woman named Café O’Lay.

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