FEDORA

Opera Prize
Shortlist 2021

377

06 / 09

The Time of Our Singing
Platform member

Belgium
La Monnaie/De Munt

The Time of Our Singing

"Singing might make more sense of life than living had to start with."
— Richard Powers (The Time of Our Singing)

Presentation

Following The Woman Who Walked into Doors (2001) and House of the Sleeping Beauties (2009), this is composer Kris Defoort’s third operatic adaptation of a novel. As soon as he had finished reading The Time of Our Singing, Kris Defoort expressed the wish to turn the Richard Powers novel into an opera and approached La Monnaie’s Intendant Peter de Caluwe. This was the start of a long creative process, marked by two important moments: the encounter with the librettist Peter van Kraaij and the moment when the young director Ted Huffman joined the artistic team, bringing to it his intimate knowledge of American history and society.

Against the backdrop of post-war segregation in his country, Richard Powers describes how a racially mixed family is both united and pulled apart by music. The Time of Our Singing tells the story of a black woman, Delia Daley, who marries a white (Jewish) man, David Strom. They have three children: Jonah, Joey, and Ruth. The family is always singing or making music, and the children soon prove to have as much musical talent as their mother, for whom – in times of segregation – a professional career in music was unthinkable because of the colour of her skin. The children grow up in the Civil Rights era and have the opportunity to begin careers in classical music – an eminently ‘white’ world. This is the path chosen by both brothers, while their younger sister gets involved with the radical Black Panther movement. Their so united family falls apart…

Both novel and opera explore fascinating themes such as civil rights, segregation, identity, and the conflict between art and real life. In adapting the book for the libretto, Peter van Kraaij had to make major changes and cuts, but the musicality of the novelist’s language, the great leaps in time, and the powerful themes of the novel have been taken into account.

Reconnecting with the very origins of opera itself, this work is really about the power of music.

Artistic Team

Composer: Kris Defoort
Libretto: Peter van Kraaij
Conductor: Kwamé Ryan
Director: Ted Huffman
Set Design: Johannes Schütz
Costumes: Astrid Klein
Lightning: Bernd Purkrabek
Video: Pierre Martin
Dramaturgy: Peter van Kraaij, Antonio Cuenca Ruiz

Delia Daley: Claron McFadden
William Daley: Mark S. Doss
David Strom: Peter Coleman-Wright
Jonah: Levy Sekgapane
Joey: Peter Brathwaite
Ruth: Abigail Abraham
Lisette Soer: Lilly Jørstad

La Monnaie Chamber Orchestra
Jazz Ensemble (Mark Turner, Lander Gyselinck, Nicholas Thys, Hendrik Lasure)
La Monnaie Children's and Youth Choir, led by Benoît Giaux

Kris Defoort

Kris Defoort

Composer

Peter van Kraaij

Peter van Kraaij

Librettist

Kwamé Ryan

Kwamé Ryan

Conductor

Ted Huffman

Ted Huffman

Stage Director

Claron McFadden

Claron McFadden

Role: Delia Daley

Mark Doss

Mark S. Doss

Role: William Daley

Peter Coleman-Wright

Peter Coleman-Wright

Role: David Strom

Levy Sekgapane

Levy Sekgapane

Role: Jonah

Peter Brathwaite

Peter Brathwaite

Role: Joey

Abigail Abraham

Abigail Abraham

Role: Ruth

Lilly Jørstad

Lilly Jørstad

Role: Lisette Soer

Co-producing Partners

LOD muziektheater

Belgium

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