Pocahontas was commissioned by the Virginia Opera and Virginia Arts Festival to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Opera Today has a nice review of the premiere performance.
Some thoughts about the controversy surrounding the opera after the cut.
Ironically, being written nowadays as opposed to baroque France made this opera more controversial in it’s time; native groups have repeatedly critiqued the piece, for being created by white artists, lacking native involvement, etc. Here’s a report of the controversy during the production in Duluth, Minnesota (where the above video comes from).
I’m not a big fan of this sort of proprietary philosophy of immediate suspicion of anything written about minorities by people outside the group; various people couch their complaints in terms of wanting to see stories about natives created by natives, which is valid and great, but I don’t see how it’s mutually exclusive? Go write them, but why the need to bar anyone else from writing them too?
It’s a sensitive subject obviously, but I don’t like the “write only what you know” school of thought.