Damyna Damyna the opera
Music and libretto by Peter Langmead
A girl child, Damyna, is nearly sold to her father's moneylender but is bought and brought up by her mother's friend. To avoid problems with her real son, Por Phiri, his mother ensures he believes she is his real sister, but they love each other dearly. Trouble arrives when two attractive consultants, Kati Pault and Given Chansa, arrive at their farm to 'improve' their farming skills. Por falls in love with Kati; Given Chansa falls in love with Damyna, with the help of a drunken witch doctor, who assumes Damyna and Por are really brother and sister. They all meet in a fashionable coffee house in town. Before matters get out of hand, the witch doctor corrects his mistake but is nearly foiled by Damyna's adopted mother's husband, who also looks like the witch doctor, claiming to be the father of both Damyna and Por. Damyna's adopted mother reveals her husband is not actually the father of her son, so Damyna and Por can now marry, while Damyna's high ranking and uniformed real father at the wedding also looks remarkably like the witch doctor.
The Cast: M4; F3; Kanon Choir chorus 20; Team Jiva dancers 8. Damyna: African, pretty, bright, attractive personality, happy, coy, late 20s; Por Phiri (porphyry): African, well dressed, educated, upper class, confident, 33; Given Chansa: African, tall, handsome, confident, 35; Kati Poult (catapault): European, attractive, bright, humourless, serious, 30s. Mrs Bwalya: African, matronly, confident, cheerful, engaging.
The Scenes: Act 1, Rural Zambian compound; Act 2, sophisticated French café in Lusaka, converting to cathedral interior (like Beauvais) during dance.
Orchestration: 2Fl/Picc, 2Ob/Eng Hn, 2Cl Bb/B. Cl, 2Bsn, 2Hn F, 2Tpt Bb; B.D., Cym, Whist, Tri, Sogo, W.R., W.B., Marimba; Hp, Pno; S Solo, M-S Solo, C Solo (2), Bar. Solo, T Solo, B Solo (2), SATB 1, SATB 2; Solo Vc, Vn I (6), Vn II (6), Vla (4), Vc (2), Cb (1). (Note, Marimba imitates a local instrument.)
Some soloists and singers in the chorus
Here are some of the chorus members and soloists practicing Damyna Damyna at the Dolce Ngoma Music Academy. From the left, Portia Imbula, Chris Lindunda, Stanley Musowe, Lulu Imbula, Dude Mubuyaeta, Catherine Mukupa and Maria Kandy Kachiza.
One of the dance captains
So you think you can dance? Here is Morris Fenete, one of the dance captains, out on his elbow, and playing with a computer.
And Michael Malambo, the Choreographer
A Synopsis of the Libretto
The predominant flavour is African, Zambian specifically, with an African cast, except for one (or two) foreigners.The tensions are between development and tradition. The philosophy is postmodernist in a culture of post-colonialism, in a less-than-advanced economy, which therefore cannot be postmodern by definition (see the first page of Lyotard)!
Kati Poult is from any neo-imperialist country (donor-based influencer) but the favourites would be Britain for the colonial connection, USA for replacing colonialism with globalisatism, and China in its more recent neo-colonial ambitions; however, it is also appropriate for other notable neo-imperialists, which include Japan and Germany, and the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland; in fact any donor country seeking influence.
Porphiri (porphyry) is a UK-educated successful Zambian of wealthy international parents living between the centre (Europe) and the periphery (Zambia), unphased by the white/black binarism, with pragmatic scientific views. Typically, this character derives his income from renting townhouses in Lusaka to expatriates, usually without paying tax and often living in South Africa, Europe or US. (Similar characters from Europe are referred to as 'trust bunnies' in Africa.)
Kati Poult (catapault) is a typical postmodern do-gooder with the belief that everyone is equal and that culture does not constrain development. A catapault is typically a male child's possession. which he uses with considerable precision and accuracy, like the often catastrophic destablising effects of many Western interventions.
Damyna is the product of pre-modern up-bringing, no education but the narrative ignorance of her peers, noting that her adopting mother quickly reverted to pre-modernism from her former international life.
The generalised atmosphere of the opera is the failures and anomalies of development caused by gender and racialist issues inherently and often absurdly trapped in pre-modernism, postmodernism, post-colonialism, neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism (aid).
Development specialists, laymen and donors, and the world that is as oppressed and subverted by their education and media-generated simulacra as much of Africa is by the lack of it, ironically.
- Farmers working in field with ploughs, winter ploughing
- Introduces location by dance and song.
- Women in the compound preparing breakfast, collecting wood, water
- Damyna comes out of traditional house
- Explains who she is: Damyna’s Aunt, Mama Bwalya, rescues Damyna from Damyna’s mother before Damyna is sold to the brother of Damyna’s father to repay the debt of Damyna’s father, ostensible to marry her but her Aunt suspected otherwise.
- She is brought up as her Aunt’s daughter, to avoid trouble from her son, other than she hasn’t been to more than basic school
- She loves her ‘brother’ but of course cannot do anything about it, for family tranquility.
- She goes off to collect wood and water
- Her son, Por Phiri, from town is staying, emerges from another traditional house
- Some talk between Por and Damyna
- Damyna goes to get more water
- Sings of his jealous love of his ‘sister’
- Explains his name, given by geologist father, Por Phiri (Porphyry)
- Mama Bwalya comes out, sings of her children and explains Por Phiri and Damyna
- Wanting Por to get married
- M Bwalya also needs Damyna to get married so she can collect the lobella, because she has debts that need to be paid
- Car arrives with foreign and local consultants, Kati Poult and Given Chansa
- Kati can be any nationality other than local, who has hang-ups about Africa, Africans and development
- Farmers all arrive from the field for the meeting
- Absurd conversation about what farmers want
- Farmers are not serious
- Mischievous bumbling Witch doctor arrives, dumfounding everyone, who go to sleep
- Casts mischievous spells on Por, Kati, Damyna and Chansa
- They should all fall in love
- Por falls in love with Kati, which is sort of reciprocated
- Given falls in love with Damyna, which is not particularly reciprocated
- All agree to meet up later in a town café
- Damyna meets up with Chansa
- Mama Bwalya arrives demanding to know what Damyna is doing
- Suddenly accepts her as a daughter and states lubola (bride price) to Chansa
- Happy with the idea that she can now pay her debt
- Por, not knowing that Damyna and Chansa were also meeting, arrives, joins the party
- Thinks bride price is good
- Damyna privately doubts Chansa but happy in her change of status
- Kati arrives
- Love duet between Por and Kati
- Witch doctor arrives with same effects as before, to correct his errors;
- Everyone fell in love with the wrong parties, because of the assumption that Damyna was Bwalya's real daughter.
- Everyone awakes from their dreams
- Mama Bwalya admits to Por that Damyna is not really his sister
- Kati has fallen in love with Chansa, and v.v
- Por falls out of love with Kati but is now confused, but has always loved Damyna
- future marriage implied
- Mama Bwalya must address this imbalance
- Witch-doctor-like character arrives, Bwalya's former husband, who claims he is the father of both Por and Damyna.(Therefore Por and Damyna cannot marry.)
- Bwalya tells her former husband that Por is not really his son. (So therefore they can marry, but the father remains a mystery).
- Marriage dance
- Marriage song
- The bow is taken in church. Closing scene is the bride comes in with her father, who looks very much the witch doctor but dressed as high ranking diplomat.
Copyright 2013 Peter Langmead