World Premiere of Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin
A song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano about the extraordinary congresswoman from Montana.

Heather Johnson, Mezzo-soprano
Mila Henry, Piano

The Library of Congress and OPERA America co-present the world premiere of Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin, a song cycle about the first woman elected to Congress. It was composed by Kitty Brazelton, Laura Kaminsky, Laura Karpman and Ellen Reid, with a text by Kimberly Reed.

A performance of the song cycle will be followed by a panel discussion with the creators on the state of women composers and librettists in the field of American opera.

Jeannette Rankin’s life was filled with extraordinary achievements. She was the first woman elected to Congress and a committed leader of the women’s suffrage movement. “I may be the first woman member of Congress,” she observed upon her election in 1916, “but I won’t be the last.”

Rankin served two separate terms in the House of Representatives: She was first elected in 1916 and won a second term in 1940, both times as a Republican from her native Montana. A committed pacifist, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the nation’s participation in both world wars. She cast the lone vote in opposition to a declaration of war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her vote was so unpopular she had to call upon the U.S. Capitol Police to escort her back to her office through an angry mob.

Rankin attracted more positive attention for the peace efforts she carried out toward the end of her long life. At the age of 88, Rankin led a women’s march on Washington in opposition to the war in Vietnam, believing strongly that women’s issues were inseparable from the peace issue. Included among the 5,000 women were Coretta Scott King and folk singer Judy Collins.

Photo: Jeannette Rankin speaking from the balcony of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, April 2, 1917. C. T. Chapman, Kensington, Md. (Photographer). Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Free, tickets required. You may register for tickets via the Eventbrite ticketing link above. In the event that advance tickets are no longer available, RUSH passes will be distributed at the box office 2 hours prior to the event start time.

Please request ADA accommodations at least five business days in advance by contacting 202.707.6362 or

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When & Where
Date: April 7, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Library of Congress
Coolidge Auditorium
10 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20540
Tickets: Free. Limit 2 per household.

Presented in association with the Library of Congress.
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