“We Sing in Her Honor” was the perfect capstone to From the Porch, Hill-Stead’s inaugural performing arts series. Our beloved cultural institution and Opera Connecticut joined together to honor the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her great love of opera.
Timed to coincide with National Opera Day (October 25, 2020), Hill-Stead hosted our nation’s first-ever RBG memorial concert. International opera luminaries Ta’u Pupu’a, Thomas Cannon, Elizabeth Lyra Ross, and others sang Puccini, Verdi, and more. The dynamic performance included a live-stream option to reach a global audience, featuring Governor Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz.
The second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, the notorious RBG, spent her life fighting for the ideals of justice and equality to improve humanity. It was most fitting to honor her at Hill-Stead, founded by Theodate Pope Riddle, our nation’s fourth female architect and a visionary female leader in her own right.
The entire series of From the Porch events, composed of more than 30 performances, is the brainchild of Hill-Stead’s Executive Director, Dr. Anna Swinbourne. Hill-Stead’s initiative has united more than a dozen diverse partners across the performing arts sphere. The series resulted in over 100 artists and an audience of nearly 2,500 since its opening night on the summer solstice. One patron described the series as a “mini-Tanglewood;” another said it “made her feel alive again.” Due to its popularity and success, Hill-Stead plans to expand the summer series in 2021.
Dr. Swinbourne took the stage, donning a stunning jacket designed by her friends Barbara “Bobbie” and Peter Bartucca in Orvieto, Italy, with RBG fabric from Berlin. In her remarks, Dr. Swinbourne thanked Evelyn Daly, a probate judge for the Farmington Probate District in Connecticut, for her enthusiastic response to carrying through with the RBG memorial tribute as well as Hill-Steads dedicated staff and supportive sponsors. Dr. Swinbourne described RBG as one of her “personal heroes” and “a shining light who devoted her life towards working for the betterment of humanity.”
Concert headliner Ta’u Pupu’a opened the afternoon’s program with Giuseppe Verdi’s La donna è mobile (Rigoletto, Act III). He expressed his appreciation for Hill-Stead: “I am happy and blessed to be able to strengthen the vocal cords in this beautiful setting. It brings positive energy to have all the colors of Mother Nature surrounding me.”
Mr. Pupu’a was a gifted athlete who played professional football before embarking on a successful second career as an opera singer. The Polynesian tenor trained at the prestigious Juilliard School, receiving an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program in 2011. A self-described “dream-catcher,” he goes after his goals—whether being drafted to the NFL or chosen for a lead role in an opera—and then tries to catch it and make it a reality.
Doris Lang Kosloff, Artistic Director of Opera Connecticut, accompanied the performers on a grand piano; special thanks to Falcetti Pianos! She regaled the audience with the stories behind each piece. The extraordinary event closed with America the Beautiful featuring the full cast of singers, and their voices rang like angels with hopes RBG could hear them from heaven.
Director of Communications