June 21st, 2019
St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre
Co-commission with Tapestry Opera in partnership with Native Earth
Music by Dean Burry | Libretto by Yvette Nolan
Featuring mezzo-soprano Marion Newman as Shanawdithit
Shanawdithit is a new opera project commissioned in partnership with Tapestry Opera, starring Marion Newman in the title role. Opening in May 2019 in Toronto before its St. John’s premiere, the work is centered on the life of Shanawdithit (1801-1829), the last recorded surviving member of the Beothuk Nation in Newfoundland.
In 1829, Shanawdithit is taken to St. John’s by William Cormack, a self-styled explorer who is fascinated by Shanawdithit’s people. In the last months of her life, she created a series of coded drawings that speak of the loneliness of survival and lost history.
Collaboratively interpreted by Indigenous artists from across Canada, including Aria Evans, Michelle Olson, Jerry Evans, Jordan Bennett, Meagan Musseau, and Lori Blondeau, led by librettist Yvette Nolan and Newfoundland composer Dean Burry, these drawings ask us to acknowledge the ways that stories are told, who tells them, and how they are heard.
Shanawdithit is a work unlike anything in opera.