Breadcrumbs

Global refugee crisis brought to life in a new opera

13 April 2021

Michael Williams, Tracey Slaugher and Nida Fiazi

The global refugee crisis is being brought to life for New Zealand audiences in a new opera co-written by a former Afghani refugee, which promises to give a voice to the inhumane treatment of refugees worldwide.

Acclaimed composer Dr Michael Williams, with librettists Nida Fiazi, and internationally-awarded poet Dr Tracey Slaughter, from the University of Waikato, School of Arts, are developing the first act of: Du’a (Prayer) for Broken Shelter.

Michael says the opera brings to life the refugee crisis as it follows one family’s journey fleeing the trauma of their homeland to Aotearoa. The opera harnesses the powerful voice and lived experience of librettist Nida Fiazi, a former Afghan refugee.

It follows a family navigating the challenges of settling in Aotearoa and along their journey encountering a hate-crime that shakes their sense of belonging.

Following a series of workshops, led by Director John Davies, the first act of the opera will be performed in Hamilton on Saturday, 24 April and a second performance will follow in Auckland on Sunday 25 April.

Tracey says Nida was a student in her class at the University and from the moment Nida started submitting poems, Tracey knew her voice needed to be heard.

“Nida has her own incredible story. Because of  her own experience of being a refugee and of the refugee camps, she has a fierce eye on the current political situation,” says Tracey.

Tracey knew Michael was wanting to explore the refugee crisis through opera and they all got together and talked about collaborating to bring it to life, says Tracey.

Michael says music is a universal language and has the power to convey the story of the refugee crisis worldwide into every human heart.

“The global refugee crisis is one of the biggest issues in the world at the moment but one which authorities and systems worldwide seem to be washing their hands of,” says Michael.

Act 1 encapsulates the scale of the crisis and gives voice to the inhumane attitudes and treatment refugees receive at the hands of nations and authorities worldwide, he says.

“We have pulled no punches in capturing the violence and oppression and the ignorance as well. The capacity of authorities to look away and wash their hands of it as not their problem,” says Michael.

Following the release of Act 1, they hope to go on to complete and produce the full opera.

Du’a (Prayer) for Broken Shelter is a collaboration with New Zealand Opera. The cast includes well-known New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, mezzo-soprano Kristin Darragh, soprano Stephanie Acraman, soprano Elizabeth Mandeno, The University of Waikato choir conducted by Rachael Griffiths-Hughes and orchestra led by James Tennant.

Find more information on how to register your attendance here.

Act One Showcase Presentation in

Hamilton:

  • Date: Saturday 24 April, 6.30pm
  • Venue: Dr John Gallagher Concert Chamber, University of Waikato
  • Location: Gate 2B, Knighton Road, Hillcrest, Hamilton

Auckland:

  • Date: Sunday 25 April, 3pm
  • Venue: Freemasons New Zealand Opera Studio
  • Location: 5/69 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland

Latest stories

Related stories

Professor Linda Johnston

Sustainability focus for new Assistant Vice-Chancellor

The University of Waikato has appointed Professor Lynda Johnston in the new role of Assistant…

New Zealand’s richest short story prize launches with acclaimed writer Patricia Grace as Chief Judge for 2021

The Sargeson Prize launched on 1 April, offering New Zealand’s richest short story prize to…

Dr Burton

University of Waikato partners with six international universities to launch Cyber Diplomacy Network

Dr Joe Burton from the University of Waikato is participating in the launch of an…

john-armstrong-group-shot

From eels to crown apologies

When John Armstrong’s wife suggested he think about looking for a job he would love,…

Professor Vincent Reid and Dr Aleea Devitt

Waikato psychologists receive international honours

Two University of Waikato academics have been recognised by the Association for Psychological Science (APS),…

fai-playing-golf

Golf and political science working well for Fai

Golf and political science, not a common combination, but it's one that worked for Fai…

National research institute focused on understanding New Zealand’s population turns 10

A national research institute based at the University of Waikato responsible for understanding New Zealand’s…

Covid-19 and the impact on our wellbeing - 48 countries compared

A University of Waikato academic has played a key role in an international study researching…

When climate change and other emergencies threaten where we live, how will we manage our retreat?

Despite living in dynamic environments and facing an uncertain future due to climate change, New…

New Pro Vice-Chancellor focused on bringing a human dimension to tackle some of the big problems of our time

Professor Patrick Leman has been appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor to the Division of Arts, Law, Psychology…

Newly promoted academics

New Professorial Appointments for Waikato

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley has announced academic promotions for one new Professor…

Te Riria

Summer research student joins team of experts to investigate algal blooms in Lake Taupō

Te Riria Potiki has spent the summer testing algal blooms in Lake Taupō.