Jason Barabba: My Wings Burned Off
June Carryl, librettist
Mimi Hilaire, soprano
Dr Renee Baker, conductor
My Wings Burned Off tells the story of Oluwatoyin Salau, an organizer in the Black Lives Matter movement, who was assaulted and murdered in June 2020. Told from Oluwatoyin’s perspective, this one-woman operatic monodrama for soprano and twelve strings is based on June Carryl’s play The Life and Death Of.
From the librettist June Carryl: “Oluwatoyin Salau was a kid: 19. She studied cosmetology, started a business in hairdressing, modeled, was homeless, wanted to be a lawyer. A near-regular on the local news in Tallahassee the summer of George Floyd’s murder, she was growing into a significant voice in the Black Lives Matter movement—and she died at the hands of a Black man. She said once, ‘I will die being Black.’ She understood how very much Blackness defined her in America’s eyes: she is told to be strong, then judged monstrous because of her strength; her anger is preternatural and unwomanly all at once; she is exotic and hypersexualized on the one hand, unloved, unwanted and invisible on the other. Always running. But it was also her superpower. It gave her her voice, her courage, her beauty. I want other Black girls and women to know they matter. It meant everything to me that Jason wanted to tell her story again in this beautiful, brutal opera. Oluwatoyin Salau deserved better; she, they, we deserve better.”
This workshop concert will showcase an unstaged version of the opera. Audience members will have the chance to offer feedback via a questionnaire, during a feedback session, or during the reception that follows the event.
Content Warning: this opera contains descriptions of violence against Black women. No violence is depicted or shown on stage.
Banner image by Alina Amador.
This concert is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.