Obeah Opera is a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, spirit-lifting, musical sensation. Steeped in Black music and sung entirely a cappella by a powerful all-female cast, Obeah Opera tells the story of the legendary Salem witch trials from the spellbinding perspective of the first woman accused, the young Caribbean slave Tituba.
[Obeah Opera] powerfully delivers a score that mixes calypso, spiritual and gospel with blues and jazz.”
In February 1692 the people of Salem, Massachusetts fell into a mass hysteria and paranoid state, which resulted in a massive witch hunt. Hundreds of people were arrested and tried for witchcraft, and over the course of a year 14 women, 5 men, and 2 dogs were executed for their supposed crimes. Although many operas, films, plays, and novels have been written about the event (most notably Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible), Tituba’s own story has never been told. Obeah Opera is a musical odyssey that offers a new take on the witch trials, slavery, and the operatic form itself.
The cast of 20 serves as both orchestra and vocal leads, as Obeah Opera redefines the traditional opera form away from its European roots, using an array of Black musical genres including spirituals, jazz, ska, Calypso, and traditional African and Caribbean folk. With an inter-disciplinary approach that incorporates musical theatre, opera, dance and Caribbean costumes, Obeah Opera is “an inspiring work. Uplifting, original, as athletic as it is musical, one can’t help but get swept up in the show’s infectious, refreshing spirit. A must see.” (Grammy Award-winner, Dan Hill)
Lead images feature: Aisha Nicholson, Arinea Hermans, Shiata Lewis, Teisha Smith-Gutherie, Nickeshia Garric, Nicole Brooks, Miranda Liverpool, Shelly Ann McLeod. Photo by Osato Erebor.
Commissioned and presented by Luminato.
Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Harbourfront Centre, Fall for Dance North Festival and Renette & David Berman. Developed with support from the NAC’s National Creation Fund.
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.