Saturday, 24 May 2014

World première of 'Pauline' by Tobin Stokes in Vancouver

Yesterday, Friday 23rd, was the first performance of the opera Pauline by composer Tobin Stokes on the first libretto ever by Margaret Atwood. It took place at the York Theatre.

The opera is about Pauline Johnson (1861-1913), child of a Mohawk chief and a Quaker Englishwoman; torn by loyalty and ambition. She lived her last years in Vancouver and died a terrible death of breast cancer, treated by crude surgery and morphine.

Pauline is set at Vancouver in March 1913. Haunted by failure, torn by her dual identity as both Mohawk and white, Pauline Johnson fights to confront her past before the end, as her doctor tries to control the pain and her sister tries to control the story that will be told.

It is the composer's fifth opera, after The Vinedressers (2001), Nootka (2010), Rattenbury (2012) and Fallujah (2014). He is already working on another lyrical work, Swollen Tongues, a LGBT comedy in the Restoration era.

The cast included Rose-Ellen Nichols, Sarah Vardy, Adam Fisher, John Minagro, Cathleen Gingrich, Edward Moran, Diane Speirs and Eleonora Higginson. It was directed by Norman Armour.

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