About singing drama

Comments: 0

My mother told me of singing drama performances they used to stage in her home town. She didn’t say much about the plot lines or those who created the works. She just sang the songs as she went about her business.

Many years later, I found papers written by music scholars such as Akin Euba, describing a performance genre which they called “Yoruba Folk Opera”. It soon became clear that my mother probably attended shows of this sort. I’m not sure whether she actually performed in them or not.

Small scale productions probably took place in local communities, but there were also the medium and large scale touring companies, led by thespian-managers such as Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola and others. Ogunde’s company was eventually known far and wide in Nigeria. He even made films of some of his best known shows.

It is well known that singing drama cuts across cultures as much loved form of storytelling. Some practitioners might quibble about the details of what makes a genre what it is, but at the end of the day, it’s all a matter of taste.

My new singing drama project was composed for classical singers. Conventions about the way things are done across the various genres of this art form are not a major area of concern.