San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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COVER: Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, center, poses with “Lady Bird Special” hostesses on October 6, 1964. Traveling by train from Alexandria, Va. to New Orleans, the First Lady made 53 appearances in eight states in an attempt to ease tension over the civil rights legislation her husband signed into law months earlier. The whistlestop tour is the setting for “Lady Bird: An Opera.” NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO.


Texas State University Opera Theatre will premiere a newly-commissioned opera, Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land, based on the life of Lady Bird Johnson April 28-May 1 in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. April 28-30, with a 2 p.m. matinee May 1.

The opera focuses on Johnson as a national peacemaker during the tumultuous decade of the 1960s. The narrative focuses on her train trip through the Deep South, riding down racism after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This 1,600-mile journey reached 500,000 people in eight states over four days and was instrumental in turning the tide in favor of racial equality in America. This was also the first time a first lady had traveled or campaigned on her own, making Johnson a strong role-model for the growing feminist movement.

Opera composer Henry Mollicone writes often on American cultural themes including Gabriel’s Daughter, the story of a freed slave separated from her daughter through slave trade, and Children of the Sun, the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Pulitzer Prize winner Sheldon Harnick, who won Tony and Academy Awards for Fiddler on the Roof, created the libretto.

Admission is $15 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at (512) 245-6500. The event is supported by Hill Country Opera and Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts-Art Works.

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