On May 31 and June 1, the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) will host the performance of a comic opera, “Sisters of the Visitation.” The performance will end a month-long series of events celebrating the inauguration of the new chancellor of the school, Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood. The opera involves a reckless young man and his servant, both of whom sneak into a convent dressed as a priest and a nun in order to stop a young woman from receiving her final vows; the “priest” and the “nun” are involved in secret trysts.
According to a description provided by UCSC, the opera “is a hilarious comedy of errors as well as revelations about secret goings-on within the convent.” Another description says it pokes “gentle fun at the formality of religious orders.” The play was originally written at the time of the French Revolution and has been reconstructed by a faculty member.
Catholic League president William Donohue recently wrote to Dr. Greenwood asking her to reschedule the opera “for a time during the academic year that is less prominent.” She refuses to do so saying that it was determined that the opera “would cause little or no discomfort,” adding that “any anti-clerical humor would clearly be seen in its dated context.”
Dr. Donohue offered the following comment to the press today:
“Dr. Greenwood thinks that ‘Sisters of the Visitation’ is okay because the harm done to Catholics is minimal and the audience that will see it will be sufficiently urbane to see the ‘anti-clerical humor’ in its historical context. Then why not schedule a few outdated stabs at women of color, Jews, gays, Native Americans, Indonesians, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans and Filipinos? I mention these groups because each of them was, or will be, the subject of a reverential tribute during the inaugural ceremonies. Indeed, there has even been a memorial prayer and meditation for Jews. Dr. Greenwood’s duplicity is evident to every fair-minded person.”