January 18, at 6 pm and January 20, at 1 pm and 4 pm
Opera Parallele will present the world premiere of a new opera inspired by the life of heroic American abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman January 18 and 20, 2018, at the African American Art and Culture Complex in San Francisco. Harriet's Spirit features new music by Bay Area-based jazz composer and bassist Marcus Shelby and a libretto by Roma Olvera as part of OP's acclaimed Hands-On Opera program, which creates and presents accessible and sophisticated new music theater works in collaboration with elementary school children during an intensive residency. This year, the creative team, headed by Shelby and Olvera, with Conductor Lucik Aprahamian, Stage Director Erin Neff, Stage Manager Lucy Coarsey and Production Designer Rachael Heiman, partners with Rooftop Alternative School 8th Grade Students, jazz vocalist Tiffany Austin as Harriet Tubman and soprano Christabel Nunoo as Modesty. The new opera tells the story of Modesty, a contemporary young woman who, inspired by a historical incident in the life of Harriet Tubman, contemplates the roles fear and love play in confronting aggression and bullying.
Modesty is a middle-school aged girl enduring adversity and bullying at school. Inspired by the biography of Harriet Tubman that she is reading, she begins to get the guidance and strength from a legendary African American treasure as a sort of spirit guide. Based on a dramatic historical event from Harriet Tubman's service during the Civil War, Modesty and Harriet contemplate the value of fear and love's ultimate role in giving meaning and direction to our lives.