News Release

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.

Ginsburg 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 the discussion.

Ginsburg cautioned 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 honorary degree.”


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