image: la tourmente, by philippe leonard
In the century of discovery, of empire and emancipation, six characters confront each other with their fears and doubts about what science demands, and what it may cost them and those whose world it is about to transform.
Framed by the opening aria sung by a former slave named January, Southern Crossings is a chamber opera that takes audiences back in time, to 1836, when the famed astronomer, John Herschel and his wife, Margaret, are about to return to England from Cape Town where, two years earlier, they had hosted Charles Darwin on his return voyage on the Beagle. Darwin took inspiration from Herschel to tackle ‘the mystery of mysteries’; Herschel hoped Darwin would join his crusade for abolition. Nonetheless, the dinner was not a great success. While packing with January and Leah, whom the Herschels have manumitted and who now await their freedom in a period of mandatory apprenticeship, Margaret recalls the dinner in the dream-image of what might have been. As she does so, January and Leah have their own conversation about what they overheard that evening (tales of people abducted from Tierra del Fuego and animals they have never seen), and what they desire for a future after bondage.
The world premiere of 'Southern Crossings' occurred June 16 and 18, 2022, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater in New York City. Diirected by Crystal Manich and conducted by Mark Shapiro, it featured Glenn Seven Allen, Jesse Blumberg, Kearstin Piper Brown, Sarah Heltzel, Juliet Petrus, and Kevin Thompson. With Flux Quartet, Maciej Frackiewicz, and Jared Soldiviero.
Score available through Donemus-nl. Visit the opera's dedicated website here.
CITIES OF SALT
Loosely based on Abdelrahmin Munif’s novel, Cities of Salt (with permission from his heirs, and translated by Peter Theroux), this opera is a monumental exploration of a world-making event: the discovery of oil in the gulf states. Scored for full orchestra with 12 principals and chorus, this is the first collaboration between the composer, Zaid Jabri, and the librettists, Rosalind Morris and Yvette Christiansë. Still in development, four scenes from the opera were showcased at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre (Covent Garden), on 22 July 2015.
A workshop video of select scenes, shot on location at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, is available upon request.