Since the late 1970s, Rap music and other aspects of “Hip Hop” culture have moved beyond the inner cities where they originated. As a form of creative expression pioneered by young African Americans in the boroughs of New York City, Rap held out the promise of replacing gang warfare with socially conscious verbal one-upmanship. Stereotypes of Rap as fundamentally violent or sexist fail to account for evolutions in Hip Hop style over the decades - or for the distinctness of different musical “schools.” Learn about the history of a grassroots musical and cultural movement and about how commercialization has shaped its presence in mainstream America.
Raidge is a Hip Hop artist and poet who has worked and studied with Donald King for the past five years at the Providence Black Repertory Company, where he has appeared in The Mojo and the Sayso and The Island. He has also performed at other Rhode Island venues, including Trinity Repertory Theater (A Preface to the Alien Garden), Rhode Island School of Design (To See It Now), and Perishable Theater (Well Water Blues). A Providence native, he attended Central High School and continued his studies at West Virginia State College and at Johnson and Wales University after serving in the US Army. He has co-designed and taught classes on Hip Hop for young people with Donald King.

Opera sometimes has the aura of a cult that excludes the uninitiated, yet its highbrow reputation is deceptive. Traditionally opera appealed to people of all ages and social classes, and it remains a form of entertainment accessible to everyone. This presentation offers an introduction to the history of opera along with answers to frequently asked questions, including: What should I listen for? How will I know if I am hearing a good performance or not? What is going on? What do I need to know in order to enjoy opera?

The music of Gilbert and Sullivan is so charming and infectious that even the worst productions of The Pirates of Penzance will leave you singing, “I am the very model of a modern major-general” for days. Learn about the unique collaboration of these “sparkling” Victorian Englishmen and enjoy a musical introduction to the sheer fun and magic of their light operas.

Take a closer look at the lives and work of three of opera’s greatest names. Choose one or more of these presentations to prepare for an upcoming performance or simply to expand your knowledge of opera.

The Art of Mozart
Opera as we know it began with Mozart. Why is he regarded as “The Master?” Find the answers to this question by exploring his music.

Verdi’s Vision
Learn about the life of Verdi and what he set out to achieve for Italian opera. Discover the music that brought him such enormous success.

Puccini and His Heroines
Puccini was a strange but intriguing musician. He fell in love with all his heroines, yet killed them off. What makes this quirky man the most popular composer of operas?

Thomas Lawlor holds degrees from University College Dublin and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. As principal baritone with the famous D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, he toured the US, Canada, and Europe, made several recordings, and appeared in two movie versions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He has played more than seventy major grand opera roles with a wide range of companies, ranging from The Royal Opera to Phoenix Opera. His performances have brought him to all the major concert venues in the United Kingdom, to Carnegie Hall, and to festivals in Europe, Asia, and the United States. He currently serves as the Artistic Director of Beavertail Opera Productions and as a member of the music faculty at Rhode Island College. He also teaches classes at Brown University.

All presentations require a CD player.

Learn about the life and work of Elizabeth Prophet, a 1918 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design who sculpted in wood, stone, and marble. While census records record her as either a “mulatto” or an “Indian,” her strongest personal and professional ties were with African Americans, including her husband, W.E.B DuBois, and Countee Cullen. She won prizes in Newport for her work, and refused an offer of patronage from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Except during years spent studying in Paris and teaching at the University of Atlanta, Rhode Island was her home. This slide presentation explores the motivations for her art and the conditions in which she struggled to define herself as an artist.
Jane Lancaster is an award-winning teacher, researcher, and writer. She received a PhD from Brown University, writing a dissertation on the life of engineer Lillian Moller Gilbreth (the mother of twelve celebrated in Cheaper by the Dozen). Her work on Rhode Island women has been published in periodicals ranging from the Providence Journal to the Journal of American History.

Please provide a carousel projector and a screen. This presentation is suitable for family audiences.

When a group of conquerors came from Mexico to colonize the lands north of the Rio Grande, they entertained themselves (and the Native Americans) with plays from Spain and original skits dramatizing their adventures in the new land. Since then, Hispanic theater in North America has had a rich and varied life, continuing now with the work of Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and writers and actors from other Spanish-speaking communities. This presentation will include readings from selected plays. Hosting organizations may request an emphasis on the historical aspect or on contemporary plays.
Resurrección Espinosa is a writer, theater director and producer, photographer, and teacher. She was born and educated in Spain, but has lived and worked in the United States since 1978. Her published works include Pioneers, a collection of photographs and oral histories of Hispanic women, El Gaucho Vegetariano and Other Plays for Students of Spanish, and Waking Dream, a book of poems. She is the director of Teatro Latino Estudiantil (Latino Student Theater) at University of Rhode Island and has taught theater workshops for children with City Arts for Youth in Providence.

This presentation is available in Spanish and is suitable for family audiences. A Spanish translation of the topic description is available upon request.

What can we learn from pictures of riverside factories, Italian immigrants, petroglyphs, and mental hospital inmates? Because images capture - or at least allude to - complex emotions, historical moments, or ideas and focus our attention on them, photography is a powerful tool for documenting human life. The branches of knowledge and inquiry we call the humanities - history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, etc. - engage us in the exploration of all that humans have ever done, thought, and felt. While reading, writing, and discussion are fundamental to these explorations, photography offers a unique visual contribution. View and discuss the work of a photographer whose perspectives on humans interacting with their surroundings have animated many RICH-funded humanities projects. Although they freeze people and places in time, his photographs examine change - whether of landscapes, people, or societies - as a dynamic process.
Salvatore Mancini is a photographer whose work has been published, exhibited, and collected throughout the United States and Europe. His projects that have received RICH support include: “The Narragansett Bay: A Photographic Essay;” “Nature to Profit: The Transformation of the Blackstone Valley,” which contrasted the remains of the industrial revolution and natural settings; “Rock Art of the Southwest;” a photographic study of immigrants from Itri, Italy who settled in Knightsville, Rhode Island; and “Days of Darkness, Days of Hope,” which documented the deinstitutionalization of patients in Rhode Island mental health institutions. He has been the recipient of a Pell award and of a fellowship and three grants from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts. He has also received the Bolaffi Prize, Italy’s most prestigious prize for photography.

Please provide a slide projector and screen.

Some of the most interesting public sculptures in Rhode Island are in its cemeteries. Survey an important and unique collection of gravestones dating from the 1660’s to the present. The Common Burying Ground has the largest set of African-American stones from the pre-revolutionary era. It also includes works by accomplished stonecarvers such as the Stevens family, John Bull, and William Mumford. Learn about the artistry and history of these gravestones through an on-site field tour or a slide presentation. A similar tour is available for Providence’s North Burial Ground.

Public sculpture takes art out of museums and into the spaces where Rhode Islanders work and play. Waiting for the bus in Providence’s Kennedy Plaza or playing frisbee in Westerly’s Wilcox Park, people of all ages have the opportunity to respond to art on their own terms. What happens when a sculptor’s vision becomes a fixture in a community’s daily environment? A slide presentation or specialized field tours of Providence, Newport, or Westerly are available.

Tours and presentations are suitable for family audiences. For slide presentations, please provide two projectors and a screen.

Ron Onorato is Honors Professor of Art History at the University of Rhode Island. His publications include numerous monographs and articles on contemporary and historic sculpture, American art, architecture, and photography. Most recently, he has written a book on outdoor sculpture in Rhode Island for the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. He is a former RICH board member