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The Powder Monkey
a new opera 

Composer Errollyn Wallen
Librettist Dominic Hingorani
Designer Rachana Jadhav

Created by Brolly 
In partnership with Opera North
Supported by ACE


"The performance was stunning! I believe for many people in the audience it was their first experience of Opera. Lots of people were commenting how accessible the performance was. It would be great to bring the performance back to Newham next year."

Mohamed Hammoudan, Director of Resident, Engagement and Participation  

London Borough of Newham

Chukwunenye, an African Igbo boy, is the powder monkey born on a slave ship and one voyage away from buying his freedom. As the slave ship nears port on the ‘middle’ passage there is an uprising by the enslaved and he must choose which side he will take; his people or his freedom?


Set on board a slave ship in 1788 the opera places the Black male character of the ‘powder monkey’ centre stage of a diverse cast and integrates live performance, music and animation. The Powder Monkey opens the borders of the opera form by drawing on the traditional music of West Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the folk forms of North of England and maritime creole work songs to reflect the diverse and often hidden histories that have made contemporary Britain.

Supported by:  Arts Council England, Opera North projects and the PRSF Talent Development Fund, The National Maritime Museum, Cockayne and the London Community Foundation, Ambache Trust, The Fidelio Trust, Bernarr Rainbow Trust, Kaye Pemberton Charitable Trust, Unity Theatre Trust, University of East London

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