In Her Words: What Does it Mean to tell Shanawdithit's Story
World premiere co-commissioned with Opera on the Avalon
Music by Dean Burry | Libretto by Yvette Nolan
Featuring: Marion Newman as Shanawdithit
DATES AND TIMES:
Thursday, May 16, 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 18 4:00 pm
Tuesday, May 21, 8:00 pm
Wednesday, May 22, 8:00 pm
Thursday, May 23, 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 25, 8:00 pm
Shanawdithit, the inspiration behind this opera, was a Beothuk woman who lived to her late twenties in the early 19th Century. When she died in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1829, she was believed to be the last of her people, having spent the last year of her life in the house of William Cormack, a historian who returned to England shortly before Shanawdithit’s death. While in Cormack’s house, Shanawdithit created ten drawings of her life and land, detailing her village’s interactions with the settlers, their way of life, and maps of the River Exploits. These drawings form the basis for the libretto and the work of the artistic collaborators. Artists from many disciplines and Nations collaborate to give life to Shanawdithit’s own voice and reclaim the story from the colonial narrative that has defined it.
Collaboratively interpreted by Indigenous artists from across Canada, including Aria Evans, Michelle Olson, Jordan Bennett, Jerry Evans, Meagan Musseau, and Lori Blondeau, led by librettist Yvette Nolan and composer and Newfoundlander Dean Burry, these drawings ask us to acknowledge the ways that stories are told, who gets to tell them, and how they are heard. Shanawdithit is a work unlike anything in opera.