The Life & Music of Tsianina Blackstone
Time & Location
About the Event
(Taught by Dr. Hannah Penn. On Zoom.) Creek/Cherokee mezzo-soprano Tsianina Blackstone was one of the first Native American singers to have a successful career in opera. Taken from her family at a young age and placed in an Indian Residential School, Ms. Blackstone became an entertainer for American troops in WWI, a traveling lecturer and opera singer, and finally as an author and activist for American Indian educational rights.
In 1918 she collaborated with American composer Charles Wakefield Cadman to create an opera, Shanewis, based loosely on her own life. It became the Metropolitan Opera’s first opera with a female librettist, its first American commission successful enough to warrant a remount (in 1919), and also its first to involve the services of a "cultural consultant." Although Ms. Blackstone was sadly not offered the lead role in the premiere, she did perform Shanewis in many other cities, where the work acted as a vehicle for her and several other American Indian opera singers.
This series will include live performances of excerpts from Shanewis, as well as excerpts from the full score, rediscovered and reassembled by Ms. Penn in her doctoral research.
Taught by Dr. Hannah Penn, a mezzo-soprano at Trinity and an expert in the music of 17th-century Italian composer Barbara Strozzi.