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Catalyst series: ‘The Central Park Five’

In 1980's New York City, five African-American and Latino teenagers were in the wrong place, at the wrong time: unjustly convicted of a brutal rape in Central Park, but exonerated through DNA evidence 13 years later.

Anthony Davis’ opera “The Central Park Five” tells this passionate story, a story about an issue that remains front of mind, more than 30 years after the initial events occurred.

“I have devoted myself to the creation of works that bring to light issues of political and social significance. Particularly my operas have addressed pivotal events and figures in American history with a focus on the issues of race and justice.” Anthony Davis

In the inaugural Catalyst series from Arts and Community Engagement, this one-night-only special program comes in advance of the June world premiere of “The Central Park Five” by Anthony Davis at Long Beach Opera.


Credit: (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)UC San Diego Composer Introduces ‘Central Park Five’ Opera

Listen to an interview with Anthony Davis on KPBS Midday Edition
Air date May 13, 2019


Featuring performance excerpts from Davis’s opera in a “working rehearsal” format and conversation between Long Beach Opera Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek and UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Music Anthony Davis, with members of the cast.

Update! Congratulations to composer Anthony Davis, who won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work. “Anthony Davis has been one of the most important voices in American opera for decades, and ‘The Central Park Five’ is one of his finest works: eloquent and fearless, and absolutely exquisitely crafted,” said Susan Narucki, Arts and Community Engagement director. Read the full UC San Diego feature.

The intimate group discussed the creative process and impact of performing such a timely, socially conscious work.

Date: Monday, May 13
Location: UC San Diego Mandeville Auditorium


  • Anthony Davis, composer and UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Music
  • Andreas Mitisek, director and Long Beach Opera Artistic and General Director 
  • Stephen Karr, conductor
  • Neda St. Clair, pianist


  • Cedric Berry as “Yusef Salaam”
  • Bernard Holcomb as “Kevin Richardson”
  • Nathan Granner as “Khorey Wise”
  • Derrell Acon as “Antron McCray”
  • Orson Van Gay as “Raymond Santana”

“The Central Park Five” by Anthony Davis premieres at Long Beach Opera on June 15, 22 and 23, 2019 at the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro, Calif.