Urban Renewal

Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses: The Opera

Watch the trailer for A Marvelous Order.

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Jane Jacobs was a keen observer of how cities work and a defender of the local liberties that make them vibrant. Robert Moses was the powerful urban planner who ripped out vast swaths of New York and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Their clashes in the 1960s, when Moses tried to raze Jacob's neighborhood to put an expressway through Lower Manhattan, have inspired debates, books, and now, apparently, an opera.

As a longtime fan of both the woman and her work, I'm not entirely sure what to make of the idea of a Jane Jacobs opera. Maybe it'll be great. Maybe it'll be terrible. Mostly I'm just tickled that it exists.

Or rather, that it will exist. A Marvelous Order, with music by Judd Greenstein and a libretto by Tracy K. Smith, isn't ready to debut yet, but the cast will perform excerpts at a gala on November 2. Those of us who can't afford the $200 admission will have to settle for this trailer:

Bonus links: Reason's interview with Jacobs is here, and our obit for Jacobs is here.