Seabird Island

Opera by Derek Healey on a libretto by the Vancouver playwright Norman Newton. The story is based on a legend of the Tsimshian (west-coast First Nation).

Opera by Derek Healey on a libretto by the Vancouver playwright Norman Newton. The story is based on a legend of the Tsimshian (west-coast First Nation). Commissioned by the Guelph Spring Festival, the Canada Council, and the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation, Seabird Island was premiered 7 May 1977 at the festival by the singers Donald Bell (the Prince), Garnet Brooks (the Shaman), Barbara Ianni (the maid), Ingemar Korjus (the King), Phyllis Mailing (the Queen), and Roxolana Roslak (the Princess) and the Stratford Festival Ensemble conducted by Nicholas Goldschmidt. William Littler found the opera 'reminiscent of the ritual of Noh or Kabuki' and described its 'interesting variety of techniques within a generally tonal framework. Pentatonic scales, ecclesiastical modes, percussion textures full of atmospheric rattles and metallic tinkling, and a tape of electronically distorted sea sounds are all brought into play' (Toronto Star, 9 May 1977). Seabird Island was broadcast 27 Jun 1977 on 'CBC Monday Night.' In 1978 a production featuring the same cast (with the exception of Bell, who was replaced by Korjus, and of Janos Tessenyi, who sang the role of the King) toured to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Banff, and Vancouver.


Further Reading

  • Healey, Derek. ' Seabird Island,' OpCan, Mar 1977