North Carolina Opera presents world premier staging of ‘Sanctuary Road’ featuring Elon instructor

This world premier staging will be presented at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh, NC on March 4, 5, and 6. See for more information. The opera is based on the accounts of William Still, abolitionist and author of The Underground Railroad Record.

Harriet Tubman may be the best-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, but a new piece highlights another key figure: William Still, who helped nearly 800 enslaved African Americans escape to freedom in the years before the Civil War. Widely recognized for his efforts as an abolitionist, historian and conductor for the Underground Railroad, Still is the central figure of “Sanctuary Road,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec.

“Sanctuary Road” will be making its world premier at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh on Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6. Elon University voice teacher and music instructor, Gretchen Bruesehoff is featured in the small ensemble of this production.

The Friday and Saturday showings will start at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday showing is at 2 p.m.

After the success of his opera “The Shining,” the award-winning composer has once again collaborated with librettist Mark Campbell to create the second of his “American historical oratorios.”

“Sanctuary Road” draws on the astonishing stories found in William Still’s book “The Underground Railroad Records,” which documents the network of secret routes and safe houses used by African American slaves to escape into free states and Canada.

Of his process, Moravec says, “Time is the medium of music and memory is the mediator. In its sublime, mysterious way, music remembers. Composing the music for this oratorio, I was guided by my intention to memorialize indelibly the spirit and events of this extraordinary chapter in American history. As William Still sings about the slaves he aided on their road to freedom, ‘Their testimony will never be forgotten.’”

William Henry Curry conducts and Dennis Whitehead Darling directs this new production; the cast features Benjamin Taylor, LaToya Lain, Taylor Raven, Norman Shankle and Malcolm J. Merriweather.

“Sanctuary Road” lasts approximately 60 minutes, and is performed without an intermission. It is sung in English with English supertitles.

More information about the opera and ticket purchases can be made at the NC Opera website.