A pioneering opera with a libretto written by an academic from Goldsmiths, University of London is to receive its world premiere this month.
Professor Joan Anim-Addo’s Imoinda: A Story of Love and Slavery will debut at the 7th London Festival of American Music at the end of February.
The works draws on Aphra Behn’s celebrated 17th Century novel Oroonoko to explore the tragic tale of two people who fell in love in Guinea only to find each other at a plantation in the West Indies where they are both slaves.
Professor Anim-Addo’s work addresses slavery and the beginnings of Afro-Caribbean culture by literally giving voice to Imoinda, who is silent in Behn’s novel, as we follow her journey with her lover Oroonoko.
Professor Anim-Addo, professor of Caribbean Literature and Culture in the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies, said she wanted to create a work of “tremendous scale and possibility” which would be “not only a tale of survival but of the birth of the Caribbean."
She said: “I had to write an opera, because the capacity shown by the African-heritage people to survive in the new world has to be a story celebrated in song, dance, music."
Professor Anim-Addo continued: “It also draws deftly on African and Caribbean music and songs to narrate the history of African enslavement and dispossession. The signals are all there to be discovered in the text.”
The new work is a collaboration with renowned composer and conductor Odaline de La Martinez, who will also be leading the three performances.
The premiere on 27 February presents Imoinda as a trilogy with three distinct spaces – Africa, the nightmare canoe (or ship) and the plantation – marking key moments in the narrative of the main characters.
Imoinda: A Story of Love and Slavery is being performed on 27 February, 1 and 2 March. Tickets can be booked via the 7th London Festival of American Music.