Since her April 2007 recital in which she sang Bigiiwe (She is coming home), a WMCT commission by Barbara Croall, mezzo-soprano Marion Newman has sung standard roles such as Carmen, or Rosina in Barber of Seville to great acclaim. Her First Nations heritage has informed her involvement in several projects highlighting indigenous stories. Most recently she sang the title role in Victor Davies new opera, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, produced by Voicebox on March 24-25.
Critical reaction to the music was mixed but the performances were reviewed favourably:
“I simply want to call attention to great singing & acting. Marion Newman as Rita Joe was authoritative, very comfortable, very strong throughout, in a challenging role, totally believable and worthy of applause.” (barczablog)
“Marion Newman in the title role also impressed. Dramatically, there’s not much to work with to delineate Rita Joe’s fall from the “good Catholic girl from the reserve” to murdered thief and prostitute but Marion made the most of it. She sang clearly (every word audible – just as well, no surtitles) and often eloquently and her stage persona was believable and often elicited sympathy.”(Opera ramblings)