The singer discusses his musical brush with the late legal legend.
Among Central Ohioans mourning the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Adam Cioffari is likely the only one to have sung about the legal legend.
In 2015, Cioffari, a bass-baritone who grew up in Columbus, appeared in the gently satirical opera “Scalia/Ginsburg,” which tells of Ginsburg’s unlikely friendship with her conservative foil, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. As a character named the Commentator, Cioffari presided over a mock trial of Scalia, brought up on charges of “excessive dissenting” but defended by Ginsburg. Shortly after her death, Cioffari shared his recollections of the diminutive yet larger-than-life justice.
On Ginsburg’s love of opera: “She has always been a huge presence in the opera community. She was our most visible public-figure advocate for the art form.”
On meeting her after the show: “I’ve met lots of opera celebrities, classical music celebrities. This was something else. You just got the sense that this was somebody who had lived a life—a really difficult but nonetheless impressive life. She just radiated wisdom and warmth and a sense of real significance.”
On Ginsburg’s opinion of the show: “She was a very, very soft-spoken woman—very tiny. She told me that the piece made her cry, and that’s maybe the most significant compliment I’ve ever received from a performance.”
On the friendship between the justices: “Negativity and fear-mongering and divisiveness sell better. That’s an easier message to sell to people at large than, ‘Well, yes, there’s this point of view, but there’s also this point of view, and you should consider both.’ Scalia and Ginsburg, even when they were disagreeing, always had a respect for each other.”Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.