Pegasus Opera's Production: Koanga
Bringing together professional soloists, dancers and 86-strong orchestra and chorus, Koanga tells the epic story of an African prince sold into slavery and a world of wicked treachery. This old tale of intense love and betrayal deals with the very modern issues of racial and cultural conflict.
Written at the end of the 19th century, Koanga can justly claim to be the very first African american opera and is inspired by the composer's own experiences in America's deep south.
Frederick Delius' work employs expressive harmonies and rich orchestration. After moving to Florida to run an orange plantation, Delius discovered the resonant singing of black workers and was taught the piano from a Jacksonville organist. This haunting musical quality influenced his work, expanding on his early romantic inspirations of Chopin and Wagner.
Koanga was Pegasus Opera's only large scale production performed in 2007 at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the former British Empire - the beginning of the long road to the eventual abolition if slavery itself in 1838.