toussaint before the spirits music by Elena Ruhr libretto by Madison Smartt Bell, Elizabeth Spires and Elena Ruhr direction, dramatization, staging and choreography by Nicola Hawkins
singers Toussaint: Stephen Salters Spirits: Alison Buchanan Moyse (adopted nephew of Toussaint): Ramone Diggs
dancers The Ancestral Dead: Chandra Cantor, DeAnna Pellecchia, Jessica Reed, Ingrid Schatz Hougan (Male Priest): Akili Jamal Haynes Mambo (Female Priestess): Isaura Oliveira
"The world premiere of Ruehr's ‘Toussaint Before the Spirits’ had the audience on its feet, cheering, whistling, and applauding for the work, the composer, and the astounding performance…” -Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe
DeAnna joined Nicola Hawkins Dance Company in 2002 to work on the one act dance opera, TOUSSAINT BEFORE THE SPIRITS, based on excerpts from Madison Smartt Bell's award-winning novels All Souls Rising and Master of the Crossroads. This collaborative opera choreographed by Nicola Hawkins and composed by Elena Ruehr, tells the story of Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader and hero of Haiti's revolution towards independence, who was captured in a ruse by Napoleon's army and condemned to die without trial in a cold prison in the French Alps. TOUSSAINT BEFORE THE SPIRITS premiered in 2003 as part of Opera Unlimited, a major festival of new contemporary opera co-produced by Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and Boston Academy of Music (BAM).