Operas and Plays From 1944 to 1988

Adam and Eve (1944)

‘The Garden of Eden and the Throne of God (Adam and Eve)’ was Ogunde’ds first opera. Although the title of the opera was in English, the opera itself was in Yoruba . It was first produced on Monday 12th of June 1944 under the aspices of The Church of the Lord (Aladura), Ebute-Metta. It was described as a ‘native air opera’ under the distinguished chairmanship of Mr. Nnamdi Azikiwe M.A, M.Sc . It was co-produced by Kuyinu and it was the first ‘opera’ produced in Nigeria to add costumes, props etc. to a Nigerian opera! It was a biblical opera.

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Worse than Crime (1945)

Staged in 1945 and chaired by Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the opera in Yoruba titled “Worse than rime’. Although the advert for the opera stated ‘Slavery in any shape or form is WORSE THAN CRIME’, it actually was saying ‘colonialism in any shape or form is worse than crime’. Ogunde and his co-producer Kuyinu were detained for two days after the first production of this play by the colonial government and only released for lack of evidence! It was the first time Ogunde will be detained. Many more were to come!.

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Journey to Heaven (1945)

The opera ‘Journey to Heaven’ was first produced by Hubert Ogunde on the 30th of July 1945. As was the costum then the title of the opera was English while the opera itself was in Yoruba. It is a play about Yoruba people’s belief in predestination which says that a man’s life is determined by the type of “Ori” he chooses in heaven!.

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Black Forest (1945)

The opera ‘Black Forest’ (Igbo Irunmale) was first produced 1945 at the Glover Hall, Lagos and re-produced many times later. Ogunde’s firsy opera with a Yoruba title as the opera itself. The re-production of this opera in 1950 drew rave reviews. One in the Daily Service of 10th January 1950 said among other things “in music, sceneries, lightning, costumes, presentation and make-up, The Black Forest is a credit to the composer-playwright, Mr. Ogunde, who is now generally accepted as the saviour of Native music and drama in Nigeria”.

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King Solomon (1945)

The opera titled ‘King Solomon’ was first produced in 1945 at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos . It was produced, as was the practice at the time, under the auspices of a church society. The opera was co-produced with Kuyinu who was Ogunde’s co-producer on many of his early opera that were almost all sponsored by one church or another. The opera itself was in Yoruba.

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Strike and Hunger (1946)

The opera ‘Strike and Hunger’ was Ogunde’s first ever solo production! It was first produced in 1945 in Yoruba and not sponsored by a church but in response to what was happening in the society. It is Ogunde’s first social commentary, many more would come. “It narrated the events leading to the famous general strike ‘by trade unions for better wages, cost of living allowances and improved condition of service.”. The opera was later banned in Jos, Northern Nigeria in 1946. It is this opera that first shot Ogunde into national prominence.

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Herbert Macaulay (1946)

On the 8th of July 1946 , Ogunde produced the opera ‘Herbert Macaulay’ at the Glover Memorial Hall in memory of Late Herbert Macaulay a famous politician and nationalist , who had died in May of that year. Ogunde described the play as ‘an historical play in two acts’ it appers political in character. Judge for yourself! This opera was produced in Yoruba.

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