‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ a tribute to a special friendship

‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ a tribute to a special friendship
Nikki Einfeld and Christopher Bengochea star in Solo Opera’s “Scalia/Ginsburg” at the Lesher Center in September. The one-hour opera is in English.scalia

WALNUT CREEK, CA — It’s difficult not to hold Supreme Court justices in awe.

Whether you agree with their political views or not, here is a group of people who hold their positions for life. How many people can say they have that kind of job security?

Two justices that certainly created both awe and angst were Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). Did you know he gave her roses on her birthday every year?

Despite their polarized views on the Supreme Court, they had many things in common. In addition to both being born in March and lifelong New Yorkers, they both loved opera. They attended performances together and even took part on stage as supernumeraries (extras) in several operas.


Solo Opera had originally planned to produce “Scalia/Ginsburg” in August 2020, but the pandemic forced its postponement until September 2021. During that time, Justice Ginsberg passed away. Originally, the show honored the memory of Scalia and applauded Ginsberg’s longevity on the court, but now it will be in memory of both justices. The show performs just short of the first anniversary of Ginsberg’s death.

“Her passing has certainly changed the heart of the show for me,” said lyric coloratura soprano Nikki Einfeld, who portrays Ginsberg. “Now more than ever I want to do her justice.”

Tenor Christopher Bengochea as Scalia and Kirk Eichelberger as the commentator join Einfeld on stage.

“When Sylvia of Solo Opera asked me to portray RBG in Derrick Wang’s two-person opera, I was intrigued,” said Einfeld. “She was an influential pioneer in gender equality but also a model for humanity. These two powerful people, who had such radically different views on things, could literally come together and prove that despite our disagreements with somebody, it doesn’t affect fundamentally what makes us human and what draws us together. For me, that’s the most powerful part of this performance.”

According to Einfeld, RBG is quoted somewhere as saying if she had another career, she would have loved to have a voice and sing opera. “Honesty, we’re glad that she followed the career path she did,” Einfeld said.

“Scalia/Ginsburg” plays 8 p.m. Sept. 10 and 2 p.m. Sept. 12 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr. For tickets, call 925-943-SHOW or go to lesherartscenter.org.

Health guidelines

Due to the increase in COVID cases and current Contra Costa County health guidelines, the performers plan to wear specially designed singers’ masks. I’m hoping against all odds that the number of cases will decrease enough by September to allow these exceptionally talented performers to bring their fascinating characters to life sans masks.

Pittsburg Community Theatre has been having a great summer despite COVID restrictions with its outdoor production of the musical “Company” and a lively Summer Youth Theatre Camp. Now, the company is rehearsing “The Real inspector Hound,” which they hope to premiere Oct. 1-9 as the first Black Box Series at Steeltown Coffee and Tea in downtown Pittsburg. For more information, go to pittsburgcommunitytheatre.org.

Meanwhile, Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble is busy readying its October show, “12 Angry Jurors” scheduled Oct. 1-10 at the El Campanil Theatre in Antioch. Go to ghostlightte.org for more information.

Also undeterred by the latest blow to performing arts groups, Diablo Women’s Choral is looking for singers for its fall season.

“Our members live all over the East Bay, joining together to build a community through music, with a diversity of ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and abilities,” says Jennifer Mack.

If you are interested, go to DiabloWomensChorale.org/join-us.

Related story: Latest Health Order Requires Indoor Performers to be Masked

Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to sallyhogarty@gmail.com