With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September, the classical-music world lost one of its most ardent fans. Ginsburg said her love of opera began at age eleven, when she saw Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, and that she would have preferred to be a singer—if she had the musical talent. Ginsburg and fellow Supreme Court Justice and opera-lover Antonin Scalia—whose judicial views frequently opposed Ginsburg’s—formed an unlikely bond based on their mutual love for the art form. Composer Derrick Wang even wrote Scalia/Ginsburg, an opera based on that friendship, which premiered at the Castleton Festival in Virginia in 2015 and was later performed at the Glimmerglass Festival and several U.S. opera companies. Her love of music was passed on to her son, James, who in 1989 founded the classical music label Cedille Records. Her musical legacy lives on in the label’s 2018 recording Notorious RBG in Song, an album of world premieres saluting Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and work. In addition to her son, Ginsberg is survived by a daughter, Jane, and four grandchildren.
Caption: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the non-singing role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp in Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, with tenor Lawrence Brownlee (as Tonio), at the Washington National Opera in 2016.