To hear the opera online, go to the radio stream: CLASSIC FM
(and click the "Classic FM" icon at the bottom of the page)
The premiere took place exactly a year ago on Nov. 20th, 2014 at Marble Collegiate Church in NYC, which was the original “company church of the Dutch West Indies Company” and remains the oldest surviving institution in New York, dating back to 1628. The Lenape Center commissioned the opera from Brent Michael Davids, whose tribe originally lived on Manahatta, to set history straight and de-bunk the "purchase" myth.
450 years ago, Hendrik Hudson sailed into the harbor of the Muhheconnituck, the river that now bears his/Hudson’s name. 388 years ago, in 1626, a brief mention of a so-called “purchase” of Manahatta was delivered by ship in a sailor’s letter. So begins the written history of the island, a place populated by Lenapes, Mohicans, Munsees and other indigenous inhabitants for perhaps 13,000 years before Hudson.
'Manhattan' comes from the Munsee description of the ‘place where we get bows’, in reference to the hickory trees on the south end of the island used to make them. Soon the island became 'New Netherland,' 'New Amsterdam' and 'New York,' following the path of supposed owner-ship transfer. During this time, a Lenape diaspora began as the longtime resident citizenry was systematically driven out. The cultural swap was so complete that even the original meaning of the island has been lost to most modern Manhattan dwellers.
Alexandra Loutsion sings the Spirit-of-the-Land, baritone Stephen Powell is a Lenape, and tenor John Bellemer, who is Wampanoag, sings the part of Dir. General Minuit, plus Native American Singers, an opera chorus representing the Lenape people and Dutch sailors, and chamber orchestra, all under the expert hands of conductor Sara Jobin.
The Scenes are:
MANHATTAN: Spirit-of-the-Land introduces Manhattan island before first contact.
THE INDIANS: Lenapes sing of life in Manhattan and the importance of Wampum.
THE DUTCH: Dir. General Minuit and the Dutch sing of exploration.
THE PURCHASE: The Lenape and Dutch meet on Manhattan island.
THE AFTER- WARD: A century-long reflection on the founding of New York is recounted.
WIPING OF TEARS: A present-day Lenape “Wiping of Tears” condolence ceremony.