Sunday, February 10, 2008

Marcia Johnson, African Canadian Librettist

Yesterday AfriClassical posted “African Canadian Librettists Thrive in Composer/Librettist Laboratory”. Dr. Christopher Foley is a member of the Tapestry New Opera Works Ensemble Studio. He told AfriClassical of the career of Marcia Johnson, an African Canadian librettist who has accepted our invitation to briefly introduce herself and share some of her experiences in the laboratory:


Marcia Johnson has been a performer and playwright in Toronto since 1983. She has acted for TV, film and stage, most recently reprising her role in Andrew Moodie’s The Real McCoy at Factory Theatre and the Great Canadian Theatre Company.

Marcia’s radio dramas have been broadcast on CBC Radio’s Sunday Showcase, Sounds Like Canada and The Sunday Edition. Current projects include a full-length adaptation of her short play Late for Obsidian Theatre Company, and Courting Johanna, which she is adapting from an Alice Munro short story for Blyth Festival.


Before the Composer-Librettist Laboratory, I’d had no experience writing for music. On the first day of the “boot camp”, dramaturge Michael Albano told all the writers that we had to justify why our stories had to be told with music. That was an excellent piece which somehow put me at ease. Another piece of the puzzle for writing for opera was provided by coloratura Carla Huhtanen during her presentation. She said that word choice was very important. I understood that I had to be mindful of vowels and consonants. I learned to use “prettier”, more lyrical words while leaving room for music.

It was a thrill to be paired with four very different composers and collaborate on four very different stories. They were performed by extremely talented singers and pianists with very little rehearsal. I was moved by everyone’s work and have formed solid partnerships and friendships. I will definitely be writing for opera again.

Marcia+Johnson" rel="tag">Marcia Johnson
Black+Librettist" rel="tag">Black Librettist
African+Canadian" rel="tag">African Canadian
Black+Playwright" rel="tag">Black Playwright
Minorities'+Operas" rel="tag">Minorities' Operas
Diversifying+Opera" rel="tag">Diversifying Opera

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