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Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family.

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'Headstrong' One-Act Opera and Author Talk
Posted: August 1, 2016

Art and science will intertwine in dramatic fashion at an opera premiere and author talk Aug. 6 at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House.

"Headstrong" is a new, one-act opera written by local musician Wes Fishwick and based on the book by Rachel Swaby. It explores the triumphs and struggles of women in the sciences.

Ford House will debut the "Headstrong" opera at 7 p.m. Aug. 6, and author Swaby will be on hand for a talkback about her book and women in the sciences. A reception with the author and performers will follow. Tickets are on sale here:

Swaby’s book, "Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World," delivers inspiring and insightful profiles of history’s brightest female scientists. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists, Swaby’s vibrant stories span centuries of courageous thinkers, all while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

The opera, written by Michigan-based musician Wes Fishwick and directed by Betsy Graham Marsh, focuses on the three of these scientists:
• Gerty Cori, a Czech-American and Nobel Prize-winning biochemist for her groundbreaking work on carbohydrate metabolism.
• Chien-Shiung Wu, a nuclear physicist who was dubbed the “First Lady of Physics.”
• And Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book "Silent Spring" is credited with founding the environmental movement.

Each of these women faced challenges from male colleagues who questioned their abilities, integrity and place in the field, but met them with bravery.

The "Headstrong" cast also follows the theme of mixing arts and science. Performers include Dorothy Duensing, a mezzo soprano with the Michigan Opera Theater and adjunct professor for voice at Wayne State University; Jie Wang, an assistant researcher at Wayne State University and professionally trained soprano; Jinsheng Zhang, professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and operatic singer; and Mary Grivas, a soprano and veteran liturgical singer in the metro Detroit and Windsor area.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for Ford House members and students, and available at

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