Best known for the jazz hits "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing" and "Sophisticated Lady," Ellington played more than 20,000 performances around the world and wrote more than 3,000 songs, but “Queenie Pie” is his only opera.
Featuring a musical score that blends his signature big band sound and clever lyrics with the musical styles of opera, jazz and musical theater, this is not your typical opera.
Inspired by the life of Madam C. J. Walker, the first female African-American self-made millionaire, the opera was originally set during the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance and focused on the challenging social issues of the time.
Sadly unfinished at the time of the Ellington’s death in 1974, COT’s creative team uses additional songs from Ellington’s canon to complete the score and features a variation of the original script. Even though the production is more contemporary, the focus of the story remains timeless as we’re still facing many of the same social issues.
“Queenie Pie” is running from Feb. 15- March 5 and the collaboration is being called one of COT’s the most ambitious projects to date. Tickets ($35 - $125) are now on sale.
Photo credit: Chicago Opera Theater