Bright Burning Adventures and Disasters of Early Feminist Icon Celebrated in City Opera Vancouver’s Canadian Premiere of Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt
In 27 short years (1877-1904) Eberhardt filled lifetimes of experience, travelling the globe as an explorer, journalist & sufi before her untimely demise
Vancouver, BC — City Opera Vancouver presents the Canadian premiere of composer Missy Mazzoli’s contemporary masterpiece Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt, on stage February 29 to March 3, 2024 at the York Theatre. One of the most adventurous women of her era, the opera tells the extraordinary life story of the complex, multifaceted Eberhardt, using her own journals as a basis for its libretto. The role will be brought to life by mezzo soprano Marion Newman, one of the brightest stars in Canada’s classical music firmament.
“Eberhardt lived during an age of adventure. And yet, her name is much less familiar than contemporaneous male explorers such as Shackleton or Livingstone. In fact, for much of her writing and travels, she had to do so in the guise of a man,” says Gordon Gerrard, Artistic Director,City Opera Vancouver. “To be forgotten in such a way is a disservice to this remarkable figure, who not only left a legacy of daring tales – but also profound, powerful insights in her writing. Librettists Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek have done great justice in bringing awareness to Eberhardt – and City Opera could not be more honoured to be the first company in Canada to share it.”
Isabelle Eberhardt was born in 1877 in Geneva, Switzerland. At age 20, after the death of her father, mother and brother in quick succession, she travelled alone to Algeria. She dressed as a man, converted to Islam and joined a Sufi order, roamed the desert on horseback and fell in love with an Algerian soldier. After surviving an attempted assassination and a failed suicide pact with her lover, Eberhardt drowned in a desert flash flood at age 27. Over the course of her life, she would court controversy by challenging gender norms, earning the enmity of governments, and becoming an early outspoken anticolonial voice.
Song from the Uproar enjoyed its world premiere in February 2012 by New York’s Beth Morrison Theatre Projects. Through a series of surreal vignettes, the audience witnesses key moments in Eberhardt’s life; from the death of her family, through her journeys in the North African desert, to her ecstatic religious conversion, and ultimately to her tragic drowning. Essential to the work are multimedia projections that amplify and enrich her life story using film and photography, as well as writing from Eberhardt herself.
The score was the first ever opera written by celebrated Brooklyn composer Missy Mazzoli, who collaborated with Canadian Royce Vavrek on the work’s libretto. The success of the piece led the duo to continued collaboration, including a recent commission from Metropolitan Opera to adapt the Man Booker Prize winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo for the esteemed company’s upcoming 2026 season.
For its Canadian premiere, the role of Isabelle Eberhardt will be played by Marion Newman, a Kwagiulth and Stó:lō First Nations mezzo-soprano with English, Irish and Scottish heritage who most recently amazed City Opera Vancouver audiences in the role of Dr. Wilson in 2017’s Missing. The work is directed by acclaimed theatre practitioner Ann Hodges, under the baton of City Opera Vancouver Artistic Director Gordon Gerrard. Newman will be supported by a five-person chorus: Katie Fraser, Christina Demeo, Emma Jang, Kiho Sohn, and Jason Sommerville. Lighting design by Alexandra Caprara, with projections by Wlad Woyno, and co-design of projections and sets by Katayoon Yousefbigloo. Costumes by Alaia Hamer and choreography by Livona Ellis.
For tickets and information, visit: cityoperavancouver.com
City Opera Vancouver (cityoperavancouver.com)
City Opera Vancouver is a professional company that commissions, creates, re-discovers and presents chamber opera. City Opera was organized in 2006 in tandem with efforts to restore the century-old, 650-seat Pantages Theatre in the Downtown Eastside. The company specializes in small forms, intimate eloquence, Canadian themes and artists, and through music tells memorably bold, vivid stories that are relevant to our time and people. City Opera regularly commissions and premieres new Canadian chamber opera, including Fallujah (2012), The Lost Operas of Mozart (2016), Missing (2017) and Chinatown (2022). In 2014, City Opera gave the world premiere of Margaret Atwood’s first opera, Pauline, with music by Tobin Stokes. In 2017, City Opera commissioned and produced, in partnership with Pacific Opera Victoria, the world premiere of Marie Clements’ and Brian Current’s opera Missing. It has since had 22 performances in Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, and Regina.The company is a registered non-profit society with federal tax status, governed by an elected Board of Directors. City Opera is a member of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, and a Community Partner of the Canadian Music Centre.
|City Opera Vancouver presents
Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt
|Dates & Times:
|February 29 & March 2, 2024 at 7:30pm
March 3, 2024 at 2pm
|$25 to $68
|York Theatre 639 Commercial Drive. Vancouver, BC
|Ticket & Info: