Harry Somers’ opera Louis Riel first premiered at the Canadian Opera Company (COC) in 1967, marking the centennial of Canadian confederation. Fifty years later, in 2017, the COC and National Arts Centre (NAC) revived this Canadian opera for the sesquicentennial “Canada 150.” The opera’s third act originally opens with an aria, “Kuyas,” adapted by Somers from the Nisga’a peoples’ “Song of Skateen” without consent and in violation of Nisga’a law. This uncredited aria and the conversation surrounding it between Indigenous artists, scholars, leaders, the COC, and the NAC leading up to the opera’s 2017 production are the subject of this panel discussion.
Moderated by Dylan Robinson, Stó:lō scholar and Queen’s University’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, with panelists Alexander Neef, General Director, Canadian Opera Company; Jani Lauzon, multidisciplinary artist and performer in 2017’s Louis Riel; Ian Cusson, Carrefour Composer, National Arts Centre Orchestra; and Simone Osborne, Soprano and Marguerite Riel in 2017’s Louis Riel.
An audio recording of this panel discussion can be found here: