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Civil War Aria

Mill Valley opera revisits history with 'Lincoln & Booth'

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The assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth retains as much drama and intrigue as it did when it originally occurred in 1865. Mill Valley residents John Cepelak and Christina Rose have used one of the most dramatic arts around—the opera—to create a new telling of the tragedy with Lincoln & Booth, presented this weekend by Golden Gate Opera.

The first-time opera composers take creative liberty, giving stage time to those who've previously been relegated to history's back seat. These people include Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave turned upscale dressmaker and one of Mary Todd's closet confidantes, as well as newspaper editor, feminist and all-around abolitionist rabble-rouser Frederick Douglass. Mary Dines, an escaped slave who became the Lincoln's longtime nanny and cook, gets an aria of her own.

Rather than demonizing Booth, the libretto humanizes the notorious assassin as a deluded actor, even as he became crazed by his diehard love for the Confederacy. Witness a thrilling world premiere when Lincoln & Booth runs Saturday and Sunday, March 10–11, in Angelico Hall at Dominican University. 50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael. $25–$100. Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2:30pm. 415.339.9546.—Leilani Clark

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