Reviews: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X - Detroit Opera

Reviews: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

Davóne Tines as Malcolm with Ensemble (CREDIT: Micah Shumake / Detroit Opera)

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Profoundly beautiful and meaningful. So grateful for this wonderful performance.


I thoroughly enjoy the performance.


I think it is great that the Detroit Opera house is stepping outside of the box and bringing new performances as well as standards to the city. Helping to create a wider audience. The cast, staging and music fit together. It also highlighted the racism of then and now as names were project above of those who have been murdered by being black. For me theatre/music of any kind is best when viewed in person. I would not have watched this as a video stream. I applaud everyone who was involved with this performance, those on stage and off. Not an easy feat especially with Covid etc. Thanks you. One last comment PLEASE leave your phones OFF


This was the most extraordinary, monumental opera/musical/multi-media arts performance I have ever experienced. The music and libretto are brilliant, the history and connections to current issues were woven within the story powerfully, and the singing, dancing and imagery were spectacular. It made me cry, laugh, smile, cry, tap my feet with an inner dance, replay the music within my head, and feel very blessed to be part of a very significant moment in opera history, and in cultural/artistic history. I hope this opera will become part of standard repertoire and performed to many more people for generations to come. Bravo to all and congratulations for the courage and brilliance of the Detroit Opera Theatre (and to Anthony Davis, Thulani Davis, Davóne Tines, Victor Ryan Robertson, Kazem Abdullah, Robert O Hara, and the many others who set a new standard for opera excellence).


I thoroughly enjoy the performance.
So excited to see such a wonderful turn out.
Wishing many good things for the Detroit Opera House.




On the good side were the performers. The singers were excellent, and the dancers were spectacular. The young man was a special treat as well. His grace, his poise, his acting, and his voice were special. His abilities could make much older performers envious.
The orchestral music was acceptable, but nothing special. No one would be going home humming. The sung music was awful. The tuneless drone was painful to listen to. If that passes for music, music needs to re think itself.
I have always admired Malcolm X and mourned his untimely loss. I never felt that the book or the libretto captured the wise power of the man. The emphasis on the injustices and the bitterness was, of course, necessary, but the volume devoted to those topics overshadowed the personal aspects of his development. And the emphasis on the wrongs diminished any understanding of Malcolm's criminality and diminished the power of his personal transition.


It was simply amazing. The costumes, music, performers were all so much more than I had imagined. Thank you for bringing this to Detroit!


It was spectacular. I really enjoyed it. I had never been to an opera and didn't know what to expect, but it blew me away. I like the fusion of the jazz sounds. I would have never thought to put jazz with an opera. I would recommend anyone to go and see this extraordinary masterpiece.


The performance was outstanding. The music was exceptional and I particularly loved the staging and the use of the dancers as a Greek chorus. I also loved that throughout the opera the young boy and the adult Malcolm X portrayed his life as a unit so that the audience would not make a mental separation between the boy and the man, an important part of any persons’ biography. Detroit was fortunate to have this stellar work presented in our city. Kudos to Detroit Opera for bringing it to us!


Amazing production. So wonderful, great voices, great sets, dancers were fantastic!! MUST SEE!


I was so excited to attend this performance and it did not disappoint! Malcolm X's story is one I thought I knew but I was not aware of the intricacies until last nights performance.
Every actor, singer and musician brought this story to life through this high level presentation. Detroit Opera is bringing so much to the city of Detroit and the appreciation is obvious by last nights Sold Out event.
Thank You Detroit Opera and Thank You cast and crew!


Much credit to Detroit Opera for producing X. Very important to present an opera that has been neglected but is so relevant to today. Few would dare to present such controversial themes challenging both conservative and liberal values.


The performance was excellent, comprised of fast-moving vignettes encapsulating components of the life journey and impact of the electrifying speaker and human/civil rights activist Malcolm X. I enjoyed it and hope that it continues to tour throughout the U.S. and goes to other countries as well. Due to there still being a global Covid-19 Pandemic health crisis, with the infection numbers going up in Detroit and Michigan, I would have preferred to have been able to see the production virtually in the safe isolation of my home. I asked last year when the production was announced if there would be a virtual option because we would not know what the Covid-19 situation would be but, most likely it would not have ended, and I was informed by Detroit Opera staff that it would be a live production. I would have paid the same price to have been able to see the performance virtually. A virtual option could have had a limited time for a viewing link to be active, either only one night, the night of the live performance or for a few days to retain the integrity of the performance for only those that paid. There were people in the audience that removed their masks after they were seated and the lights went down which there was no way for your staff to enforce the "Mask "Requirement" that was stated in the ticketing process and the email I received about your Covid-19 protocols prior to the performance. That made me very uncomfortable sitting close to people that were not wearing masks.


Totally absorbing from start to finish.


Outstanding!! Well done !! So grateful for bringing it back to us after 36 years!!


I thought the performance was very good. I won't lie: the music was challenging, at times. Certainly from the Heyday of minimalist compositions. (In the talk before the performance, the speakers brought up Wagner and Miles Davis), but I heard more echoes of Philip Glass and Eric Dolphy. So yes, the music can be challenging, but it was also weird and captivating and beautiful at times. The performers were outstanding. Obviously the lead, but not only him. I loved the various choir moments; and the singer who performed as Elijah Muhammad (sorry; don't have his name before me.) He brought a different tone and sensibility to the performance. I think he may have been also the singer who played the part of the hustler early on in the show. If it was, indeed, the same singer who portrayed the hustler and Elijah Muhammad, I wonder if that was a deliberate choice, as in a certain critique of Elijah Muhammad implied there. The stage design was superb. It conveyed the emotions of different parts of the story perfectly. Bottom line: this is a significant opera, well performed, and bravo to the Detroit Opera for reviving it. (Also, it was a full house, Sunday afternoon show, so kudos to the audience, as well, for supporting the performers and this piece of modern music.)


Overall, a well done performance. The jazzy music was excellent and kept changing as the opera progressed through the years it covered. The dancing was very interesting. The costuming was great and the set with the projection was well done. While it did start off a little slow, it did pick up and grabbed the audience's attention. This Opera needs to be in the global repertoire more often.


I really enjoyed the performance of the cast members in particular Elijah Muhammad's & Malcolm X characters! The dancers was phenomenal in the way they were able to tell the story through their dance moves!

Ternace (tren tren)

powerful. loved the progression of malcolm little to malcolm x. Allah (god) gives freedom to malcolm in his final call. may peace be upon us all. amen...


I enjoyed it. The adaption of his life was on point and well portrayed. I was pleased to support the production by bringing a group of 30 people, particularly the youth ages 10-15. Davon Tines and the entire cast did an excellent job. I liked the scenes, staging and costuming. I thought the production was somewhat dark and solemn. I also thought there were pieces that could have been shortened; various interludes and such. I think the theatre house needs to work on its sound because although the production was great the poor sound projection impacted it to some degree.

Dr. Martin

Absolutely captivating; from beginning to end & each part was played superbly…a definite “must see”.


I was mesmerized, entertained and learned so much. I have been thinking about the performance ever since we left, which to me, means it was a great success. On top of it all, the music and cast were incredible.

Ms. T

It was AWESOME! The music, Cast and arrangement were SUPERB!


Because of COVID-19 many of the performers could not appear. The ones who did, wore mask, sometimes the best thing to do is to cancel or postpone the show because the alternative is not a good reflection or representation of the true essence of the Opera.


It was nice to see this man’s story finally expressed in a beautiful light rather than “take away what you will”. He is to be honored at all times for his sacrifice. The play was absolutely magnificent. The lead actor captured his energy perfectly.


Wowed by sight and sound! The stage production was creatively stunning, the cast, the music moved us emotionally, intellectually and at times I wanted to get up on my feet and flat out dance! In 3 journey traversed over 3 decades of Malcolm’s life in a cliffs note manner. Much to mash up but done brilliantly. Again, thank you to all involved - well done!!! 🥂


Great music and a great cast (special shout-out to Victor Ryan Robertson). The libretto is slow and deliberate, though part of the reason is the very wise decision to add meditations on African American history to the plot. The bigger issue is that the pacing is uniform throughout, which makes the show's three hours seem quite a bit longer. The projections can be interesting and are needed, but they are way too busy, to the point of distraction.


This show was nearly perfect. We have attended Michigan opera since the early days at Music hall and our opera company has always been inclusive and bold in repertoire. I always say that performances of MOT and those of the DSO (also notably inclusive and bold) are better than anything on Great Performances and should be shown to the world.


Detroit Opera's production of X, the Life and Times of Malcolm X is intellectually stimulating, musically complex, psychologically thrilling, visually engaging, and humanizes a man woefully misunderstood.

Nadia G

I live in Florida and have attended several seasons of what was previously Michigan Opera Theater, and is now Detroit Opera. I love opera and found this production of Malcolm X to be an absolute tour de force. The creativity, ingenuity and attention to detail were second to none. I love that opera is finally reaching the scope and diversity of our country and telling stories that are important to all of us, all Americans. I have already renewed my subscription for next season.

Pat Y

Most Amazing Opera I’ve ever attending. True to El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz story as possible, without pointing direct fingers. I loved every aspect from the beginning to end. And I appreciate the guest panel prior to the show starting. #Salute on a Superb Show. And Special thanks to the Composer and his wife for taking time to converse with me and the elder accompanying me. Absolutely A MUST SEE!!!!!