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Windy City Times 2023-12-13
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Dr. Lady J explains how opera can be a drag
by Vern Hester
2024-02-10

This article shared 4747 times since Sat Feb 10, 2024
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On Feb. 8, Center on Halsted, in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago, presented a lecture by historian, drag activist, podcaster and curator Dr. Lady J.

The event, titled "Castrated Superstars, Cross Dressed Divas, and Queer Lovers: A History of Drag in Opera," was presented in tandem with the Lyric's production of Champion by Michael Cristofer, which is based on the true story of boxer Emile Griffth, who in his lifetime found community among drag queens. The near sold-out lecture was followed by a reception.

Dr. Lady J's hour-long lecture covered opera from the 1700s through the present; one focus was the era of castratos, when the experience of going to the opera was more akin to experiencing a rock concerts, she said. Her talk wound into the modern era with references and video clips of opera singer and director Ira Siff; German new wave artist Klaus Nomi; drag performer Monét X Change (who performed opera on RuPaul's Drag Race); and Laverne Cox.

Dr. Lady J (also known out of drag as J. Davenport) is a non-binary trans woman originally from East Tennessee who specializes in drag performance history. She now resides in Cleveland, where, among other accomplishments, she served as the inaugural director of programming, education and outreach for Studio West 117, a $100 million development project focusing on arts and entertainment centering the Northeast Ohio LGBTQ+ community and their allies.


This article shared 4747 times since Sat Feb 10, 2024
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