Migrations tell the story of migrants spanning between 1620-2022 who risk their lives for the opportunity to have better quality and opportunity in life. This isn’t a tale of “woe is us” this is a strong powerful Operatic performance sharing the plight tens of thousands of people have embarked upon for the dream of a better life. Conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren led the orchestra through the voyage with incredible navigation.
The Native American Cree community fighting for their right to “exist” is told by Dawn (Marion Newman) a worn down native who only wants to live on and survive by the land her ancestors left her. Fighting the large oil companies devastating her habitat for greed and expansion. Challenging the question of authority and ownership of free land. Her voice is waning and the frustrated exhaustion comes across as a heart-rendering performance.
To the right-hand side of the stage, the four richly dressed gentry sit eating a vast array of decadent dishes served to them by their “negro” slave. Oblivious to the plight of pain and torment surrounding them. They laugh, eat and discuss the trading of slaves in the way in which you would write a shopping list. The boos they received at the end highlight the impact their presence had on the audience.
A flock of birds on their annual migration fly in and out of the stage observing the human migrants as they go. The youngest constantly questioned the adults on why they continued the same way each year and why are people behaving in a “stupid” manner. However, on arrival at their annual nesting rock, they discover its been a casualty of global warming and is now submerged underwater, exhausted by their long flight each of the birds succumbs to the water and died in quick succession.
Will Todd’s music and orchestrations bring each era to life with a new passion for each migrant collective? The scale of work involved shows Todd’s passion and conviction in bringing their stories to life. With a cast of over 80 performers, it is certainly not a small-scale production and I was impressed that the attention to detail never slips.
A refreshing and honest modern Opera. Bringing to stage up-to-date concerns, and raising awareness of real-life issues and major problems is to be congratulated and applauded. Migrations will remain with me for a long time, feelings of disgust and despair never go away overnight.
Migration issues are as relevant today as they have been throughout History. The plight people endure escaping war, murder, rape, and atrocities. Although pinpointed over several decades migration hasn’t changed and as long as people feel undervalued and afraid of the lives they are living it will continue for many decades more.
I would strongly recommend buying a programme for Migrations. It is a fascinating insight into how the Opera was constructed and the indepth historical information collected and covered throughout the Opera.
For more information about the Welsh National Opera and future ptarmigan at the Mayflower please visit the link below.