Canadian-Indigenous Opera | World Premiere

Libretto by Yvette Nolan | Composed by Dean Burry


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“This new opera brings Shanawdithit’s story out of colonial textbooks and into living history.” – CBC Arts

Shanawdithit is a Canadian-Indigenous opera which premiered in 2019 and tells the story of Shanawdithit (1801-1829) who was thought to be the last member of the Beothuk Nation, located in present-day Newfoundland.

Synopsis: In 1828, Shanawdithit was brought to St. John’s, NL by William Cormack, an explorer, humanitarian, and the founder of the Beothuk Institution. In hopes of preserving the Beothuk culture, she created a series of ten drawings for Cormack that speak of the life of her people, their encounters with the European settlers, and the loneliness of survival. Learn more about her story by visiting the Beothuk Institute website.

Shanawdithit sheds new light on
a story and its misrepresented peoples

Nearly all of the Beothuk’s published history is documented by Europeans and non-Indigenous historians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Led by Algonquin playwright Yvette Nolan, Tapestry Opera’s world premiere of Shanawdithit brought Indigenous artistic collaborators together from Nations across the country to give voice to Shanawdithit and her people.

Learn more about Shanawdithit and the world premiere by clicking the link below.

Conversation: Tapestry Opera’s
Shanawdithit at Opera Conference 2021

Tapestry Opera’s Executive Director Jaime Martino, Shanawdithit playwright/co-director Yvette Nolan, and mezzo-soprano Marion Newman who played the title role in the world premiere collectively speak at Opera Conference 2021 hosted by Opera America in a case study titled Reimagining the Rehearsal Structure.

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In partnership with

Imperial Oil Opera Theatre

227 Front Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 1E8



Creative Team