Opera debut depicts First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of the assassination

Another sign of how deeply the assassination of President Kennedy is etched into the American imagination is a new opera, “Requiem” that debuted on Friday in Baltimore.

“I think it’s important for all arts to be a reflection of today’s society, so even though this is about something that happened 50 years ago,” says Caitlin Vincent, the librettist, a graduate of the Peabody School at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Vincent said she and her colleague, Josh Bornfield, “were still informed by what’s going on now, both in terms of the opera community and in the greater American situation.”

“No one in the cast remembers this—we’re all too young,” she went on. “but it’s such a pivotal point in our national identity. Even 50 years later, our parents can all remember exactly where they were. It’s sort of the [September 11] for them. And 50 years ago, it’s interesting to see what’s changed, what hasn’t changed, we’re still having these moments of national tragedy—gun control, inequality—and I wanted to make a tribute to them. And it seemed like an opera was a fitting thing to do, given their support of the arts.”

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