Museum open on Monday, 6/19. IL residents get free admission MORE

Slavery Goes to the Opera

In late 1997, the renowned Lyric Opera of Chicago debuted the very first opera of its kind—a work especially commissioned to retell the 1839 story of the slave ship, La Amistad, whose captives revolted and changed the course of history. In Chicago, the opera served as a catalyst for educational and community engagement with the difficult history of the global slave trade.

Cover of the Amistad program, CHM, ICHi-176647_001. Scene from Amistad performance, November 1997, CHM, ICHi-176655

In our new Google Arts & Culture exhibit, learn the story of La Amistad, including the frenzy the captives faced when the ship ended up in New England and the Supreme Court trial where they argued for their freedom. Get a look behind the scenes at how this historical event was transformed into a one-of-a-kind opera, from the writing process to costume design, from casting challenges to the considerations of set design. See it now.

Google Arts & Culture is an online platform that puts the treasures, stories, and knowledge of more than 2,000 cultural institutions from eighty countries at your fingertips. The Chicago History Museum’s portal includes stories from throughout the city’s history. Peruse the designs of Chicago-born couturier Mainbocher, learn about the work of civil rights leader Reverend J. H. Jackson, tour the city’s culinary history through historical menus, and so much more! See all exhibits


Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories