HUC-UC Ethics Center Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems
Ethics in the Arts

HUC-UC Ethics Center has partnered with Cincinnati Opera to sponsor programs accompanying Cincinnati Opera's regular summer season. The series of programs, entitled "Ethics in the Arts," have been very successful in recent years. Usually, they center on ethical issues relating to specific operas and opera in general and demonstrate the prevalence of moral and ethical themes in opera and art. In the past, HUC-UC Ethics Center has offered various programs featuring a diverse group of presenters engaging in a variety of discussions. A few programs we have featured are: a panel discussion on censorship; a talk on ethical issues and capitalism; and a lecture on ethical issues relating to the portrayal of terror in opera and music.

Previous Programs

Lamentations: Music, Text and Interpretation
(February 21, 2008 - Scheuer Chapel, HUC-JIR)
HUC-UC Ethics Center will be presenting a symposium on and performance of on the Lamentations of Jeremiah. The symposium will feature Catholic and Jewish experts in liturgy, as well as scholars of biblical commentaries and music history. The performance will be a presentation of the rare and exciting world-class early music of the Leçons des Ténèbres (Lamentations of Jeremiah) by François Couperin. For more information and to register, please call (513) 221-1875 ext. 3367 or e-mail at The program is free and open to the public. Co-sponsors of this event are the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and the Catacoustic Consort. For the flyer, click here (PDF).

Gender Stereotypes: The African American Family and the Margaret Garner Story (February 23, 2005)
During Cincinnati Opera's 2005 season HUC-UC Ethics Center joined many institutions in the Cincinnati area to present public events relating to the world premiere of the opera "Margaret Garner." The opera was commission by Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, and Opera Company of Philadelphia. Novelist Toni Morrison wrote the libretto and the music was composed by Richard Danielpour. It premiered in Cincinnati in July 2005. Based on the true story of Margaret Garner, the opera tells the story of a slave who escaped across the Ohio river from Kentucky and killed her two-year old daughter to prevent her from being enslaved when she was about to be recaptured. In advance of the premiere, HUC-UC Ethics Center and Cincinnati Opera presented a public panel discussion to explore the story of Margaret Garner, and the portrayal of the African American family in the Opera production. The story of Margaret Garner and her family formed the basis of a discussion that addressed the ethical issues that arise from the discrepancy between historical records and artistic rendering. With this program, HUC-UC Ethics Center was able to reach out to new constituencies and attract a more diverse audience of more than 120 persons. The question and answer period following the discussion prompted a dynamic discussion of these issues.

The Musicality of Violence: The Aesthetics of Terror
(June 20, 2004)
HUC-UC Ethics Center hosted this lecture by Dr. Lydia Goehr, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Dr. Goehr explored the attempt by artists to humanize inhumane events and situations. She used a range of contemporary examples, including the opera, The Maids, and the role of music in concentration camps, as exemplified by Viktor Ullmann's opera The Emperor of Atlantis. To conclude the program, Peter Bengtson, composer of The Maids, which had its American premiere in Cincinnati during the 2004 Cincinnati Opera season, spoke about his experience and motivation during the process of composing.

Censored: Exploring the Fine Line Between "Thought-Provoking" and Offensive (April 25, 2004)
This panel discussion featured speakers who voiced their diverse opinions regarding the issue of art and censorship. The event took place at The Louis & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and drew a capacity audience of over 200 people. Speakers included Nicholas Muni, Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera; Nancy Bertaux, Professor of Economics and Human Resources at Xavier University; Louis Sirkin, lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law; Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values; and Steve Ramos, film critic for the alternative weekly CityBeat. The lively discussion was moderated by University of Cincinnati College of Law Dean, Joseph Tomain. View CityBeat article

Capitalism & Sin (June 4, 2003)
Is capitalism a necessary evil? Do we prosper only at the expense of others? These were some of the questions addressed at this public symposium led by New York Times columnist Randy Cohen ("The Ethicist") and Nicholas Muni, director of Cincinnati Opera's 2003 production of The Seven Deadly Sins. This lively and entertaining program addressed Kurt Weil's perceptions of American capitalism in the 1930's, and attracted well over 200 attendees. It was sponsored by the William A. Friedlander Ethics Lecture Fellowship. The evening program was followed by a breakfast meeting of business leaders from the Greater Cincinnati area with Randy Cohen.

Opera Rap: Panel Discussion of Capital Punishment (January 17, 2002)
The HUC-UC Ethics Center hosted Opera Rap, a panel discussion of capital punishment, which was inspired by Cincinnati Opera's July, 2002 Midwest Premiere of the new opera "Dead Man Walking" by young American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally. Moderated by Joseph P. Tomain, Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, the panel included Peter Bronson, Editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dr. Jack Cottrell, Professor of Theology at Cincinnati Bible College, Alphonse Gerhardstein, Civil Rights Attorney, and Sister Ruth Kettman, Director of Justice and Peace Office for the Diocese of Covington. The event was co-sponsored by Cincinnati Opera and more than 200 were in attendance.

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