United States poet laureate Tracy K. Smith will develop her story about a Black family confronting poverty and legacy into an operatic production for the Cincinnati Opera

The Associated Press reported yesterday (July 10) that the performing arts company commissioned Smith and composer Gregory Spears to create “Castor and Patience.” Smith’s original story takes its name from its two protagonists, a pair of Black cousins from the South who inherit land at the beginning of the subprime mortgage crisis. Patience seeks to protect the property from developers, while Castor wishes to sell his portion and pay off debt.

“ ‘Castor and Patience’ will speak to issues vital to our nation’s continuing cultural conversations,” Cincinnati Opera CEO Patricia Beggs said in a statement to The Cincinnati Enquirer. “What is home? What do we owe our ancestors? How do we come to terms with the shameful parts of our nation’s history? The stage is in Cincinnati, but the impact will be well beyond.”

Cincinnati Opera, one of the country’s oldest opera companies, plans to premiere “Castor and Patience” in July 2020.