In January 1856, Margaret Garner and her husband fled the Kentucky farm where they were slaves. They were captured, and Margaret Garner killed her two-year-old daughter with a butcher knife rather than let her return to slavery. The story was the basis for Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. As Detroit Public Radio's Celeste Headlee reports, it debuted in 2004 as an opera, Margaret Garner, with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role. Morrison wrote the libretto, collaborating with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour. (And it was the first opera for both of them.)
Three opera companies - the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Cincinnati Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia - co-commissioned the work. It debuted in Michigan, moved to Cincinnati last summer and is now slated to open in Philadelphia on February 10, 2006. Several more U.S. opera companies have already put Margaret Garner on their schedules. Tickets are available online.
PBS has an interesting interview with Morrison about the opera.