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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
Tawawa House
Zenobia Powell Perry
Jeannie Pool
Matthew Buckman (General & Artistic Director)
Ryan Murray (Music Director)
Heike Hambley (Director)

Shawnette Sulker
Eric McKeever
Anthony McGlaun
Leslie Sandefur
Juan Dunn
Lawrence Craig

May 02, 2014
Description is not available.
Fanny (sop)
Jake (bar)
Eddie (ten)
Gincy (sop)
Theo (bar)
Zeke (bar)

All speaking and chorus:
Edward Drake
Amos Dresser
Levi Coffin
Catherine Coffin
3 gentlemen
Mr. Wright
Mrs. Wright
2 runaway slaves
2 bounty hunters

Tawawa House, an opera with dialogue written by African-American composer Zenobia Powell Perry in 1984, tells the story of a real hotel and resort in Xenia Springs, Ohio that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad in the decade before the Civil War before becoming one of the first African-American colleges in the country.  The opera offers a glimpse into the lives of people who lived and worked at Tawawa House after gaining their freedom, and the people who helped them protect their freedom as the country braced for Civil War.

In collaboration with Sankofa Theater Company, Townsend Opera is presenting the world premiere of this uniquely American opera to engage the community regarding an important time in American history.  While history largely remembers that time for its conflict and disregard for basic human rights, there were people of all races who worked together and risked their lives to secure the freedom of their fellow man.  This is the story of these American heroes.

The opera highlights the challenges facing Tawawa House as political unrest throughout the nation turns attention and funding away from the enterprise of freeing slaves through the Underground Railroad, the impact that has on the future of the runaway and freed slaves working at Tawawa House, and the courageous decision by religious leaders in the region to turn Tawawa House into the first African-American college in the country, where it still remains as Wilberforce College.

The opera features a unique fusion of traditional Negro Spirituals and western classical music.  The composer wrote the spirituals as her grandfather, a slave during the time depicted in the opera, sang them to her as a child.  After completing an undergraduate degree in music, the composer received personal support and funding from Eleanor Roosevelt to study with the accomplished composer Darius Milhaud in the 1940s and ‘50s.

SATB – – strings
3 percussion

Jeannie Pool
P.O. Box 8144
La Crescenta, CA 91224

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One

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