Event Lectures and Symposia Live! at the Library: Mary Cardwell Dawson and the National Negro Opera Company

Date and Location

  • When: Thursday, January 19, 2023

    7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST

  • Where: James Madison Building - Montpelier Room (LM619)

    101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540

Part of Live at the Library

Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov.

Join us for a special Live! at the Library event from the American Musicological Society featuring Karen Bryan on the history of Mary Cardwell Dawson and the history of the National Negro Opera Company.

Mary Cardwell Dawson and the National Negro Opera Company are important parts of the history of African American Opera in the United States and in Washington, D.C. Her legacy is significant: her advocacy contributed to the increased opportunities for singers of color in traditionally white companies through the 1950s and 1960s, and opera companies such as Opera Ebony and Opera South credited her example as inspiration for their own formation. This presentation highlights her activities and influence in the 1940s and 1950s, and highlights the activities of Black singers through this same period.

This lecture coincides with Washington National Opera’s production of The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson, which takes place at The Kennedy Center on January 20 and 22, 2023. Also, the Denyce Graves Foundation’s (DGF) educational initiative, Hidden Voices, will launch during the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress events. DGF and WNO have also partnered to create Introducing Mary Cardwell Dawson, an exhibit that to be installed in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States from January 18–February 1, 2023. The exhibit will include photographs and artifacts from the Dawson estate and on loan from the Heinz History Center, that tell the story of Dawson’s life and the National Negro Opera Company. If you want to learn more you can also explore the National Negro Opera Company Collection at the Library of Congress.

Presented in cooperation with American Musicological Society .

Event Resources