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Loving v. Virginia

Music by: Damien Geter

Libretto by: Jessica Murphy Moo

Duration: 2 hrs

Commissioned by: Virginia Opera and The Richmond Symphony

Premiere: Upcoming Spring 2025, Virginia Opera


In Loving Vs. Virginia, two residents of Virginia, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, got married in the District of Columbia. However, once they returned to Virginia, they were charged with violating the state’s law that banned inter-racial marriages. The couple was sentenced to a year in prison. However, they appealed and eventually made it to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled unanimously that the Virginia Law was in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the decision Chief Justice Earl Warren stated that, “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”



Mildred Jeter Loving - Soprano

Richard Loving - Baritone

Ray Green; Richard’s best friend - Baritone

Mildred’s cousin -

Mildred’s Dad, Theoliver “Jake” Jeter - Bass

Mildred’s Mom, Musiel Byrd Jeter - Soprano

Richard’s Mom, Lola Allen Loving - Contralto

Sherriff Garnett Brooks/Judge Leon M. Bazile (same singer) - Tenor

Bernard Cohen - Baritone

Philip Hirschkop - Tenor

Orchestration: Double winds, 2 Trumpet, 2 Trombone, 3 Horn, 2 player Percussion + Timpani, Strings, Guitar

Project Statement

As a native Virginian, the historical significance of Loving v. Virginia has remained with me since I was a teenager, but I’m finding there are many who are unfamiliar with this landmark case.  Coming back home to Virginia and collaborating with Virginia Opera (the company where I first experienced opera) and working with Jessica Murphy Moo to tell the story of Mildred and Richard Loving is important not only for the sake of honoring their legacy, but also for ensuring the future of the art form.

This opera will cover 10 years of their lives. We will see their young love, their courtship at a country car race, Richard asking Mildred’s father for Mildred’s hand in marriage, their arrest, and their persistent fight to get home to the life they wanted. How could their young love withstand such immense pressures so early on? 

Musical story-ideas include noise and quiet, harmony (love) and discord, what we build (homes, societies, laws, bricks that can fit together, bricks that don’t), protest, equality, and time.




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