HARRIET, THE WOMAN CALLED MOSES – This opera, with music and libretto by Scottish composer Thea Musgrave, was first performed March 1st, 1985 at the Virginia Opera in Norfolk, VA. The conductor was Musgrave’s husband Peter Mark.
Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will remember my articles about Thea Musgrave’s 1979 opera version of A Christmas Carol. I consider Musgrave one of the few genuine giants of opera from the late 20th Century. (Yes, I’m so boring I’m even into opera.)
Of Republican Harriet Tubman, the famed former slave who worked with the Underground Railroad to lead other slaves to freedom, Musgrave said “Harriet is every woman who dared to defy injustice and tyranny. She is Joan of Arc, she is Susan B Anthony, she is Anne Frank, she is Mother Teresa.”
Harriet, The Woman Called Moses is a two-act opera which uses a non-linear narrative structure, jumping back and forth in time while highlighting powerful episodes in Tubman’s life. A chorus representing slaves remains on stage for the entire performance.
In 1990 Thea Musgrave did a revised, shortened version of this opera and later oversaw a concert version of the work titled Remembering Harriet.
This opera’s singing roles include a soprano as Harriet Tubman and in support a mezzo-soprano, two baritones, three tenors and three bass singers along with the aforementioned chorus.
Act One of the opera recaps Tubman’s horrific experiences as a slave and ends with her decision to return to slave soil to help other slaves escape to freedom. Act Two deals with the experienced and notorious “Moses” undertaking one last mission to rescue family members.
Thea Musgrave has also written operas about Mary, Queen of Scots and Simon Bolivar.
FOR MY LOOK AT HER CHRISTMAS CAROL OPERA CLICK HERE