Interlochen Arts Academy to Premiere ‘Edmonia’ in 2024

By David Salazar

Interlochen Arts Academy is set to present the stage premiere of “Edmonia” in 2024.

The opera, created by William Banfield, will be the culmination of a three-year process and exploration on the music and art of the African Diaspora.

The work spotlights acclaimed African American and Native American sculptor Edmonia Lewis who was born in 1844 and died in 1907. The opera focuses on her time at Oberlin College as well as her studio days in Boston. It also showcases her time in Rome. Lewis most famously created “The Death of Cleopatra” when she was but 32-years-old; the work stands in the Smithsonian.

“Edmonia Lewis is one of the most important documented, celebrated Black cultural figures of the 19th century, and yet her story is largely untold and her life forgotten,” said composer Banfield in an official statement. “The opera implores us to mindfully examine what happens when we miss the rich heritages cultivated by people and artisans all around us. I look forward to collaborating with Interlochen students to showcase her remarkable life and work.”

Banfield is set to initiate workshops for the opera in the spring of 2022 alongside a wide range of interdisciplinary students.