Scènes in the life of Harriet Tubman
Portrait of the courageous Afro-American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman and her struggle against slavery.
Portrait of a courageous woman in her struggle against slavery. Afro-American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman (c.1822-1913) escapes slavery through the secret routes of the famous ‘Underground Railroad’. Visions and secret codes in spiritual songs show her the way. Risking her own life she goes back many times to free others. But even after the abolition of slavery the fight for freedom is far from over.
Coproduction: HERMESensemble, Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, Festival Internacional Cervantino, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Operadagen Rotterdam, Coordinación de Difusión Cultural UNAM, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ and CIRM, Centre National de Création Musicale.
Composition commissioned by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Festival Internacional Cervantino, Muziekgebouw aan ‘IJ and Muziektheater Transparant.
With the support of Ammodo, Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government, Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Mexico (FONCA) and The Composers’ Fund, a PRS for Music Foundation initiative in collaboration with Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
Composition: Hilda Paredes • Texts: Lex Bohlmeijer • Mayra Santos-Febres • quotes by Harriet Tubman • Musical Director: Manoj Kamps • Direction | Scenography: Jean Lacornerie • Video Design: Miwa Matreyek • Lighting design I Digital lighting I Scenography: Peter Quasters • Costume Design: Lieve Pynoo • Vocals: Claron McFadden • Naomi Beeldens • Ensemble: HERMESensemble • Violin: Wibert Aerts • Guitar: Nico Couck • Percussion: Gaetan La Mela • Electronics I Sound Design: Monica Gil Giraldo • CIRM Experimentalstudio
‘Harriet’ is anything but a hagiography, but thanks to McFadden’s intense and believable performance the protagonist grew into a gripping symbol of bottomless injustice. … ‘Harriet’ convinced as a stylised and layered art work that left the viewer shaken, even ashamed.’
NRC.nl ***** - 4 October 2018
All praise to Claron McFadden for her interpretation of Tubman. Her performance is physically restrained, even static, but every look and every gesture breathes a confident fight and energy. … McFadden also tackles Paredes’ daring composition with obvious ease. She swings effortlessly between vocal acrobatics with her head voice and the musical quotations from the sober spirituals that Parades has woven into her composition.
Theaterkrant - 4 October 2018
Paredes’ music is beautiful and rich in details, and alongside subtle and rarefied textures it contains spikier sounds and in the fourth act even martial rhythms… The show is strengthened by the surprisingly inventive and sharply timed projections … in which Matreyek confronts documentary material such as old engravings with beautifully made animations, from concrete to abstract, which at some moments coincide precisely with the actions of both singers.
De Volkskrant **** - 4 October 2018
Hilda Paredes takes from society everything that is in it … a profound theatre experience. The leading role of the Dutch-American soprano Claron McFadden, who identified completely with Harriet Tubman, was crucial for the whole event. … What a sensation! The whole cast radiated inspiration that drew in the whole audience: I won’t say that it was all down to McFadden, but it certainly was to a large extent, it couldn’t have been otherwise. Chapeau!
Werkgroep Caraïbische Letteren - 8 October 2018
A heroine to be sure, one who is portrayed marvellously, with power and passion, by Claron McFadden ... the music is poetical, compelling and colourful and in many parts is superbly in keeping with the voices. ... The second role is for an equally splendid Naomi Beeldens ... The directing by Jean Lacornerie and the video images by Miwa Matreyek are wonderful ... an opera not easily forgotten.
Nieuwe Noten - 27 April 2019