Hazel M. Johnson, the mother of environmental justice.

Chicago Fringe Opera is proud to partner with opera companies across the US for the Decameron Opera Coalition’s second film series: “The Heroes Project”.

On October 1, a collection of original film tributes to unsung American heroes will be released.  CFO’s camera opera celebrates the life and work of the mother of the environmental rights movement, activist Hazel M. Johnson.  “The Widow’s Will” highlights Johnson’s struggle against the City of Chicago to bring attention to the toxic pollution of the Altgeld Gardens community.  The film considers her legacy today, as well the effects of politics and racism on her work, ending with a call to action for audiences to continue her environmental activism.

This film is produced in grateful collaboration with the People for Community Recovery, the non-profit environmental organization founded by Johnson.

This production is sponsored in part by John Bierbusse.


Artistic Team

Director of Photography & Editor
Music Director
Visual Dramaturg
Costume Designer
Audio Editor

The Heroes Project

One ticket gives you access to all three episodes of “The Heroes Project" Watch the chapters on the premier date, Oct 1, or at your leisure.

Each episode is comprised of a diverse collection of chapters created by companies from across the country. These creators explore the meaning of heroism and profile unsung, unconventional, or misunderstood heroes from varying eras and geographies.

Hero Songs


By Peter Hilliard & Matt Boresi

The Place


By Maria Thompson Corley & Sandra Oyinloye

A Letter to Our Children

Resonance Works

By Justine F. Chen & Jacqueline Goldfinger

Unsung Activist

Opera in the Heights

By Steve Wallace

Sacajawea: Woman of Many Names

Fargo-Moorhead Opera

By Dawn Avery & Blake Hill-Saya

The Widow's Will

Chicago Fringe Opera

By Elizabeth Rudolph & Bilal Dardai

Home Cooked Heroes

Milwaukee Opera Theatre

By Brit Nicole & Ms. Lotus Fankh

Heroes of New York

Bare Opera

By Dina Pruzhansky & Briana Hunter

Supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, & the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Chicago Fringe Opera is an Opera America Partner.