Margaret Atwood's opera about Pauline Johnson to debut May 2014

Margaret Atwood's first opera, about the life of Canadian writer and performer Pauline Johnson, will debut in Vancouver next May, the Guardian reports.

Atwood began work on the project 15 years ago, with the goal of bringing the "operatic fireworks" of Johnson's life to the stage.

images.jpeg"She had courage, brains and beauty, like many of the best operatic heroines," Atwood said of Johnson, who was born in 1861 on the Six Nations reserve in Brantford, Ont. "She also led a double life, in which a secret love, a jealous sister and an early death were elements.''

Atwood's story is set in 1913's Vancouver, where Johnson spent the latter part of her life.

The long gestating project has had many hurdles to overcome. The original composer attached to the opera walked away and the idea was put on hold for several years. In 2010, City Opera attempted to get production going again but had difficulty reaching an agreement with another composer.

However, last year, Vancouver-born composer Tobin Stokes signed onto the project, and earlier this month, City Opera received a $30,000 grant to help get it off the ground.
Six to 10 performances will be staged at Vancouver's York Theatre next May.

Atwood's dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale was adapted into an opera in 2000 by the Royal Danish Opera company.

Related links