The Mile-Long Opera, a citywide public engagement project, brings together 1,000 singers from across New York for free performances on the High Line, October 3—8, 2018.

Co-created by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, with words and lyrics by acclaimed poets Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine, The Mile-Long Opera: a biography of 7 o’clock is an ambitious, collective, free choral work that shares personal stories from hundreds of New Yorkers about life in our rapidly changing city.

Elizabeth Diller commented, “After working on the design of the High Line for over a decade and witnessing the rapid transformation of the surrounding area, I thought a lot about the life cycle of the city—its decay and rebirth—full of opportunities and contradictions. This vantage presented an opportunity for creative reflection about the speed of change of the contemporary city and the stories of its inhabitants. The park will be a 30-block-long urban stage for an immersive performance in which the audience will be mobile, the performers will be distributed, and the city will be both protagonist and backdrop for a collective experience celebrating our diversity.”

The work focuses on the changing meaning of 7:00 pm, the time the performance begins each evening, and a time that represents a transition from day to night, when people shift from one activity to the next. It is also a time traditionally associated with family, stability and home, yet today, those associations are less predictable. The diverse stories told in The Mile-Long Opera are inspired by first-hand interviews with New Yorkers from all walks of life. Their individual experiences reflect unique ways of coping with the contemporary condition—anxiety, humor, nostalgia, vulnerability, joy, and outrage—that together form a biography of 7 o’clock.

Set in one of the most dynamic public spaces for observing New York City and its multitude of intersecting lives, The Mile-Long Opera invites audiences to move in and out of groups of singers as they walk along the High Line.

At the heart of the work is an extensive community engagement initiative that activates non-profit cultural organizations across all five boroughs. Seven Anchor Partners serve as a hub for engaging local audiences—from recruiting singers, to holding and welcoming the public for open rehearsals and workshops, to hosting social and cultural events in the lead-up to the October performances.


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Partner-in-ChargeElizabeth Diller
Project LeadMatthew Johnson
TeamJaffer Kolb,Kumar Atre,Alex Knezo,Christine Noblejas,Eduardo Tazon,and Swarnabh Ghosh
External credits
Community choirs in all 5 boroughsPerformer
Diller Scofidio + Renfro and David LangConcept
Diller Scofidio + RenfroProducer
The High LineProducer
The Office of Performing Arts & FilmProducer
TargetPresenting Sponsor
NYC Department of Parks and RecreationPartner
Abrons Arts Center (Manhattan)Anchor Partner
Arts East NY (Brooklyn)Anchor Partner
Flushing Town Hall (Queens)Anchor Partner
The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (Manhattan)Anchor Partner
The Point CDC (Bronx)Anchor Partner
Snug Harbor (Staten Island)Anchor Partner
David LangComposer
Anne CarsonLibrettist
Claudia RankineEssayist
Elizabeth DillerDirector
Lynsey PeisingerDirector
Donald NallyMusic Director
Matthew JohnsonAssistant Director
Jody ElffSound Designer
Carlos J. SotoCostume Designer
John TorresLighting Designer
PEOPLEMOVRPartnerships + Public Engagement
Katarina HenrysonChoir Engagement Associate
Walker International Communications Group, Inc.Marketing
Robert CurrieCollaborator
Ragnar KjartanssonCreative Advisor
    Photography by Iwan Baan and Timothy Schenck