Williams College’s ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance is presenting “A Marvelous Order,” a new opera about the infamous New York City urban planner Robert Moses and the journalist Jane Jacobs. With music by Williams alum Judd Greenstein and libretto by Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith, the opera is a story about New York City, and about cities, in general. It’s a story about the people who live in those cities and how the decisions made on their behalf, by those with authority and those who resist that authority, tangibly impact their lives. It’s a story about two brilliant, visionary urban theorists, each of whom turned their theory into practice, and in so doing changed the landscape of New York and the field of urbanism forever. And it’s a story that continues to this day, in New York City and beyond. There will be one performance only, at 8pm on Saturday (March 12). Tickets are $10/$3 students.
This story is told through the lens of the struggle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses over the fate of Washington Square Park and lower Manhattan in the 1960s. When Jacobs’ neighborhood was threatened by Moses’ highway development plans, she mounted community opposition that successfully halted Moses’ actions and weakened his hold on urban policy. That moment of conflict represents the juncture between two approaches to urban planning, personified by the two antagonists, that continue to frame the contemporary development of cities around the world.