May 23, 2022 - News

Loving v. Virginia case legalizing interracial marriage to become an opera

Mildred and Richard Loving, photographed in 1967. He has his arm around her and they're sitting in what looks like a law office.

Mildred and Richard Loving, photographed in 1967. / Getty images

The landmark Supreme Court case that struck down state bans on interracial marriage is going to be an opera. Yes, an opera!

Driving the news: Virginia Opera and the Richmond Symphony have teamed up to commission an operatic telling of the marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial Virginia couple who were sentenced to a year in jail in the 1950s for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made it illegal for anyone white to marry anyone non-white.

  • Their sentence was suspended so long as they left the state, so the couple moved to D.C.
  • It took nearly a decade of appeals, but in 1967, the Lovings’ conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.
  • Loving v. Virginia was the precedent cited in the Court’s 2015 decison legalizing same-sex marriage.

What’s happening: Virginia Opera commissioned the work in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

  • Loving v. Virginia will premiere in 2025 at Dominion Energy Center in Richmond, Harrison Opera House in Norfolk and Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax.

Be smart: Virginia Opera commissioned composer Damien Geter, who grew up in Chesterfield, and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo to create the new opera.

  • The Lovings made her own marriage possible, Murphy Moo told the Times-Dispatch.

What they’re saying: “I can’t think of a more fitting story, a testament of love, a story of quiet persistence, courage, dignity and ultimately a victory for civil rights and the freedom to marry,” Adam Turner, artistic director of Virginia Opera, said at a May news conference in Richmond.


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