U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg combined two
of her passions–law and opera–to help DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business,
College of Law and School of Music celebrate their centennial anniversaries.
stepped away from courtroom proceedings where she is expected to render
opinions, and took center stage at the Chicago History Museum to offer her
views on the role of law in selected musical pieces performed live. William
Mason, general director emeritus of Lyric Opera Chicago, joined Ginsburg for
that lawyers and judges “fare rather badly in operatic works,” before mezzo-soprano Jane Bunnell and
bass-baritone Marc Embree, both on faculty at DePaul’s School of Music, along
with soprano Patrice Michaels, director of vocal studies at the University of
Chicago and Ginsburg’s daughter-in-law, sang a variety of songs. The trio of
voices was accompanied by pianist Steven Mosteller, associate music professor at
the School of Music and director of the DePaul Opera Theatre. Among the
performances were Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am Pirate” from the “Pirates of
Penzance,” and Mozart’s “Soave si il vento,” from “Così fan tutte.” Michaels
also performed a special piece, “Anita’s Story,” from “Three Songs for Justice
Ginsburg,” a work commissioned for Ginsburg’s 80th birthday.
Ginsburg, an admitted opera buff, said though opera was one
of her loves, for her it could only be a profession reserved for her dreams.
“My tolerance to address this topic may not be altogether apparent,” said
Ginsburg. “For truth be told, I am ill-equipped to break out in song. My grade school music teacher ranked me a
sparrow, not a robin, and instructed me to just mouth the words. Still, in my
dreams I can be a great diva.”
Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill
Clinton, Ginsburg attended Harvard Law School, where she was the first female
member of its Law Review before transferring to Columbia University, to
complete her legal education.
She said she was happy to be part of DePaul’s centennial
celebrations because the university will always be special to her. “DePaul has
a special place in my remembrance of good things past,” said Ginsburg. “In 1985,
eight years before I was appointed to this invitation attracting job I now hold, DePaul conferred on me an