Prize for Opera
12 / 08
Harriet © DR i
“I freed a thousand slaves.
I could have freed a thousand more
if only they knew they were slaves.”
The soprano Claron McFadden will sing the title role on Hilda Paredes' music-theatre portrait of the Afro-American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman (c. 1822-1913).
As a young woman, Harriet was able to escape her life as a slave via the secret routes of the renowned ‘Underground Railroad’. Putting her own life in danger, she returned many times to free hundreds of others. She fought in the American Civil War and contributed to the abolition of slavery. But this by no means signalled the end of the struggle for freedom.
In the libretto (based on poems by Mayra Santos-Febres & dialogues by Lex Bohlmeijer). Harriet (sung by McFadden) tells her life story to her young protégé Alice (Naomi Beeldens). She talks about the violent injury to her head suffered when she was young. About the religious visions that resulted from it and which showed her the way out. About spirituals with secret, coded instructions for her escape. About her many rescue missions; she never lost a single passenger on the Underground Railroad. About the moment she first crossed the frontier between slavery and freedom. About her decision to return immediately to save her family.
The music is scored for violin, guitar, percussion and electronics created at CIRM (France) and performed by HERMESensemble. What is special about the composition of the artistic team: 1. Different nationalities (Britisch /Mexican, Dutch, French, American, Belgian, Canadian, Sri Lankan, Puerto Rican). 2. Different levels of experiences – a very nice mix of established artists (Hilda Paredes / Mayra Santo-Febres / Lex Bohlmeijer / Jean Lacornerie / Claron McFadden) and emerging artists (Miwa Matreyek / Mieke Vandensande / Manoj Kamps/ Noami Beeldens). 3. Different disciplines + orchestra.
Artistic director & Conductor