Opera ode to Harriet Tubman’s life lands on St. Catharines stage


Published February 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

The two-act opera, "Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom," is coming to the Partridge Hall in St. Catharines' FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on February 18.

“I had crossed the line. I was free but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.”
~ Harriet Tubman

The heroics of legendary Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, who smuggled dozens and dozens of slaves across the border and into a life of freedom in Canada, somehow becomes even more powerful when the tale plays out on stage.

The two-act opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, is coming to the Partridge Hall in St. Catharines’ FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Feb. 18 and it promises to be a powerful reminder of the feats from one of the Garden City’s most celebrated residents in the 1850s.

The stunning music will be delivered by The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric music including classical, spiritual, gospel, jazz, folk and blues.

The 21 classically trained outstanding vocalists of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale have shared the stage with internationally recognized artists such as Joe Sealy, Molly Johnson, Jackie Richardson and opera star Kathleen Battle and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

(Nathaniel Dett was born in Niagara Falls in 1882, became a world-renowned musician and composer and currently has a church named after him in that city.)

The opera tells of how a young girl born into slavery becomes Harriet Tubman, based on her recent biographies. The story is told in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family of lively characters.

It carries the universal themes of sisterhood, courage, sacrifice and doing what is necessary to keep a family together. Moreover, it is a heartwarming tale of two sisters vowing that nothing but death will separate them, despite slavery threatening to tear them apart. Under the direction of founder, artistic director and conductor Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s mission is to “build bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people, both Afrocentric and other, through the medium of music. The Chorale seeks to dissolve the barriers of stereotype, to empower humans in general, and those of African descent in particular.”

The musical comes to the Partridge Hall stage on Feb. 18 at 7:30 and tickets are available here.

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