Artist Brings Groundbreaking Role to Malcolm X and Opera 

Meet Davóne Tines. 

He’s a bass-baritone artist who is in-demand and changing the face of how opera looks and sounds. Tines, 34, was recently named as Musical America’s vocalist of the year and is grateful for the tribute. 

“It was a quite a surprise and honor. I don’t think I fully thought about what that actually means,” said Tines. “It’s something I’m happy for…but I try not to lend into external validators.”  

Tines is spending his residency in Detroit at the Michigan Opera Theatre.  

“X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” will be performed in Detroit in 2022 and will star Michigan Opera Theatre’s 2021-22 Artist-in-Residence Davóne Tines as Malcolm X. Tines joined the Michigan Opera Theatre creative team this season, and his Artist-in-Residency culminates in these performances. 

The opera will debut in Detroit on May 14, with additional performances on May 19 and 22, 2022. Anthony Davis will be revising “X” for the new production. 

“I look forward with great excitement to the production of ‘X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X’ at the Metropolitan Opera,” said composer Davis. “It has been thirty-five years since the premiere of ‘X,’ and I am eager to work with the extraordinary director Robert O’Hara on this new production that will feature a new generation of artists. Malcolm X [el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz] is an even more relevant figure today. His vision is as prescient today as it was in 1986. He is an inspiration for Black Lives Matter and the movement for social justice. As a composer, I am thrilled to help create ‘X’ as an opera for today that speaks to the future as well as the past.” 

One of the things Tines enjoys is exploring having the opportunity to go beyond his performances and create a connection to the city and institution where he showcases his thunderous vocal cords. 

Tines asked himself “What does it mean to have a deeper connection with the institutions with which I perform?” 

“In the work I do I try to be very honest and real about what the context is in which I’m working. I thought getting to know Detroit and getting to have some connectivity to this place would be very critical in order for me to play such an iconic figure from Detroit.” 

Getting to know Detroit is something Tines is getting himself very acquainted with as it allows him to connect to the spirit of the city and embrace the character it embodies, lessons he’ll shape into developing an outstanding character performance as X. 

He spent some time in the Fall touring the Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History. The experience helped personalize and better understand the career and life moments of Malcolm X. 

“The Charles H. Wright Museum is absolutely incredible because of its very clear storytelling. It’s incredible to see Malcolm X as a pivotal figure who was able to look backward and engage all the intensity of the past and articulate that into my present in how I act. Some people may call that a violent action to respond to how I’ve been treated historically. But I think Malcom X was ahead of his time in saying, no I’m going to actually self-actualize by being honest about my context and making my present actions form a better future.” 

The 6’2” classically-trained artist is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University. His vocal artistry is extraordinary and commanding. Music sometimes creates a universal way of transcending through many barriers and going beyond a certain range or limit is something Tines’ vocal abilities captures very well. However, Tines also understands the unique space he’s operating in being a Black man in opera. 

“I’m a Black person operating in a context of opera that is not always understood to be connected to blackness. But I’ve always been more excited about the possibilities of what the institution of opera has to offer.” 


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