This weekend I went to see Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower The Opera created, written, and composed by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon .
The opera was auditory magic. Absolutely incredible.
It’s based on the 1993 Butler novel Parable of the Sower set in the 2020s where the society is collapsing because of a number of issues like climate change, greed, and inequality. At the center of the story is Lauren Oya Olamina who, with her ability to feel what others feel and sense, grows up in a “gated community”, but finds herself outgrowing the beliefs she’s been taught. When her community is destroyed she takes her new beliefs and sets out to rebuild.
The Opera follows the novel closely and if you’ve not read it in a while or have never read it, you may find yourself a little lost during the performance. But the two acts capture the ideas of community and humanity with such intensity and emotion that anyone can enjoy the messages without knowing the text.
The music is lively and moving. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen or heard a story told so beautifully. Transitioning from near gospel to folk-blues to rock the music challenges the audience to listen deeply and even participate. I was singing and tapping my feet right along despite not knowing the words. I can’t wait for the music to be available. I highly recommend going to see this show if you can.