Justice Ginsburg Prepares For Her Operatic Stage Debut

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
Font Size:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will don a new set of robes for the Washington National Opera in November, appearing for one night in a Victorian period gown and feathered bonnet as the Duchess of Krakenthorp in Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment.”

Though Ginsburg’s is not a singing role, the Duchess does have several lines, which the company has tailored to accommodate their guest — and solicit a few laughs.

“Military might meets aristocratic delight in this stylish production of Donizetti’s masterful opéra comique, which blends instantly hummable melodies and flag-waving anthems with innocent romance and plenty of slapstick faux pas,” WNO’s description of the production reads.

RBG is something of an opera diva in her own right. She has previously made cameo appearances in “Ariadne auf Naxos” (with the late Justice Antonin Scalia) and “Die Fledermaus.” Her personage was also read into the canon — Derrick Wang, a lyricist and legal scholar, wrote and produced an opera called Scalia/Ginsburg. It’s most famous line, “We are different/we are one,” inspired Ginsburg’s first public remarks when Scalia died. (RELATED: Law Professors: Smaller SCOTUS Is Probably Better For Everyone)

“I would start to hear music, specifically a rage aria about the Constitution,” Wang said, in reference to the startling, invigorating experience of the Scalia dissent. Rage arias appear in the baroque Italian tradition of opera, where the singer expresses indignation, contempt, or lamentation. “And then I heard counterpoint, the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” he continued. “The essence of drama is conflict and there’s drama aplenty going on at the Supreme Court.”

She also periodically gives a presentation called “Opera and the Law.” Her five favorites include “The Marriage of Figaro,” a Mozart composition; “Don Giovanni,” which tradition holds was completed the day it premiered; Der Rosenkavalier, which features the role Ginsburg would most like to fill were she a diva, Princess Marie Therese von Werdenberg; Otello (Giueseppi Verdi), which she finds more engaging than the Shakespeare*; and The Girl of the West, which she prefers to other Puccini operas since the women fare far better as compared to his other works (see Tosca, Turnadot.)

Harvard paid homage to Ginsburg and the opera in 2015, when she received an honorary Doctor of Laws. Placido Domingo, the Spanish tenor, sang for her as her credentials were presented.

*A DCNF fact check confirms this analysis

Follow Kevin on Twitter

Send tips to

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact