Opera Frontier went to Addis Ababa Ethiopia in January 2019 to collaborate with Circus Abyssinia. This piece features western classical music and circus arts, fused with traditional Ethiopian instruments and dance. For the collaboration, Opera Frontier repurposed an aria from Handel’s Messiah (Rejoice Greatly) with lyrics that place the four young women — Ethiopian circus artists — at the center of an empowering scene.
“Rejoice Abyssinia” Fana TV Interview – Subtitled
ABOUT THE MUSIC
The soundtrack for “Rejoice Abyssinia” features Addis Ababa musicians (on masenqo and violin) infusing Handel’s score with improvisations that characterize Ethiopian music. Opera Frontier modified Handel’s original lyrics, replacing patriarchal Old Testament language of “Lord”, “Savior” and “heathen” with lyrics that call young women to be peacemakers: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughters of heaven. Shout!! O Soul of Abyssinia. Behold your dream comes unto you. You are the righteous dreamers who will speak peace to all people!” These lyrics celebrate the increasingly important role women play in politics and raise our hopes for peace. This performance is dedicated to empowered female leaders around the world and to the new generation of young women they inspire.
ABOUT THE COLLABORATORS
- To learn more about Circus Abyssinia, see https://www.bibiandbichu.com/circus-abyssinia. In a thrilling premier in December 2018, the Circus opened “Ethiopian Dreams” in an Off-Broadway Theater in New York City. Audiences and reviewers were charmed.
- For a review see https://www.broadwayworld.com/off-broadway/article/BWW-Review-CIRCUS-ABYSSINIA-Ethiopian-Dreams-Come-True-in-NYC-20181226.