Brixton-based Pegasus Opera Company will launch its live performance season this year with a two-night concert at London’s Royal Opera House in its Linbury Theatre in July.
Pegasus is one of the companies contributing to the Engender Festival at the Royal Opera House (ROH).
This is an initiative to change gender imbalance in opera and music theatre and to drive towards gender equity in all areas of opera.
The annual event celebrates the work of women and non-binary people in opera and provides a platform for relevant discussions with audiences.
Pegasus, the UK’s leading diverse opera company, said it strives to break down elitist perceptions often associated with opera by making it accessible to all, while championing diverse artists and composers.
Its varied programme will celebrate trailblazing, diverse women in opera.
Conceived by Pegasus artistic director Alison Buchanan, a renowned soprano, Mami Wata brings together established composers, such as British-based Bushra El-Turk and Errollyn Wallen, and international composers Nkeiru Okoye, Lettie Beckon Alston, Margaret Bonds, Dorothy Rudd Moore and Nahla Mattar.
A ﬁrst of its kind, the work will feature many UK premieres.
Performances of Mami Wata, are on 16 and 17 July.
Pegasus said its programme for the Engender Festival, “provides a powerful and stirring experience for audiences to immerse themselves in the currents of positive change”.
Alison Buchanan said: “Mami Wata is monumental and groundbreaking.
“It brings together female artists to celebrate the vocal works of diverse female composers.
“It is an introduction to a rich, varied, yet often unheard body of work.
“It reflects the huge shift in consciousness when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
“To have Mami Wata at ROH, world leaders in opera, is significant.
“Thirty years ago I was the first Black British woman to give a solo recital in the ROH crush bar after winning the Maggie Teyte Prize.
“This time, I share the stage with a host of beautiful, talented women of colour as we honour and celebrate amazing women composers of color. We have come a long way.”
The concert connects diasporic voices in the unifying theme of water, symbolising movement, journeys, rebirth and freedom.
For centuries, women have been linked with water in art and literature, but the African spirit Mami Wata has been a culturally signiﬁcant representation of Black women in water for thousands of years.
Mami Wata is the earliest Black mermaid found in widespread creation myths across Africa and is the inspiration for this production.
Directed by T D Moyo, the concert will feature Alison Buchanan, April Koyejo-Audiger, Simone Ibbett-Brown, Camille Maalawy and dancer choreographer Monique Jonas, along with other exceptionally talented artists and musicians.
Pegasus producer Jordan Mullineaux said: “Working with the Royal Opera House on this production is such an exciting way for Pegasus to return to the stage after the lengthy lockdown.
“We are proud and excited to get back to the stage.
“Next year Pegasus will celebrate 30 years of advocacy for diversity in music. To perform in this venue and to work in harmony with the Royal Opera House is such a wonderful opportunity to champion the talented artists we work with on a daily basis.”
Pegasus recently announced two distinguished new patrons to support its work in diversifying opera in the UK – baritone Roderick Williams OBE and Sharon D. Clarke MBE.
For Windrush Day this year the company released Rush, the Windrush anthem for Lambeth.
Two future Pegasus shows are now on sale.
An opera double bill: Passion, Poison and Petrifaction / The Prodigal Son (L’enfant prodigue) will be performed from September 9 to 12 in the Susie Sainsbury Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music.
The annual Pegasus Black History Month Concert, on 1 and 2 October, will be ARISE: Legacy and Hope at the Greenwich Theatre.
For more information about these performances and to bpok, visit the Pegasus website.