‘Afiwa’ takes to the stage in American premiere
Sold-out performances Saturday April 17, 2010 of “Afiwa,” an opera by Nicholas Ballanta marked a special occasion. For the first time, the production was presented in America. (Photo: A true heroine of the people, having stood up to the king and survived a trial through the will of the people, Afiwa (Joseryl Beckley), embraces her community as its new leader. –Photos by Lynn A. Wade/Herald-Tribune)
Ballanta was a prolific writer of folk operas, depicting life in Africa and combining American and British musical elements with African elements. The most popular of these was “Afiwa,” and was first performed in Keta, Gold Coast, in 1936 and was performed in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as recently as 1997.
The version performed at Cottey College is modified from Ballanta’s synopsis for a 1937 Freetown performance.
Anani, who is Afiwa’s foster father (Wes Morton) and Ayele, her foster mother (Theresa Spencer) rejoice at having saved baby Afiwa from the river, and agree to raise her as their own.
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