Battle Lines

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The War To End All Wars was a time of horror. But it also was a time of great artistic achievement, and far from the Western Front, a watershed moment for Cincinnati.

“Cincinnati Remembers WWI” grew out of the Cincinnati Opera’s presentation this July of Silent Night, the 2012 Pulitzer prize–winning opera about the Christmas truce on the Western Front in 1914. The city’s German-American history makes WWI particularly relevant, says  Artistic Director Evans Mirageas. “From 1914 until America entered the war, this neighborhood had a very difficult time figuring out what to do because the U.S. was neutral. So, when there would be German victories overseas, there would be partying in Over-the-Rhine.” Then in 1917, German-Americans experienced a severe backlash.

Working with the CSO, the Taft Museum, and 16 other organizations, Mirageas conceived a massive series of cultural programs that run through July. His big M.O.? “What can we do to engage the entire city in as many ways as possible? Not because we’re ashamed of it, but because…it happened.”    

For a list of Cincinnati Remembers WWI events, see cincinnatiopera.org/wwi

Originally published in the April 2014 issue.

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