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Rokia Traoré to Give US Premiere of "Desdemona," Collaboration with Toni Morrison, Peter Sellars

Rokia Traore

Rokia Traoré joins forces with director Peter Sellars and Nobel Prize–winning novelist Toni Morrison to create a new theater piece titled Desdemona, which will receive its US premiere in performances at the Zellerbach Playhouse at the University of California in Berkeley this Wednesday through Saturday. The Associated Press, which spoke with the creators about the piece, says: "Traoré's stage presence is magnetic."

Created in response to Sellars's 2009 direction of Shakespeare's Othello, the piece, featuring a script by Morrison and music by Traoré, imagines a conversation from beyond the grave between Shakespeare's Desdemona and Barbary, the woman Shakespeare identifies as the African nurse who raised her. After centuries of colonialism and racism, the two women share stories, songs, determination, and hope for a different future. Traoré sings the role of Barbary. Sellars directs.

Sellars, a frequent collaborator with Nonesuch artists like John Adams and Dawn Upshaw, first worked with Traoré on a reimagining of Mozart's The Magic Flute for the composer's 250th anniversary.

Desdemona received its world premiere in Vienna this past spring and was performed at the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers outside Paris earlier this month. It receives its New York premiere next week at Lincoln Center as part of the White Light Festival.

Read the Associated Press report from Paris via There are previews of this week's production in the San Jose Mercury News at and from KQED at

For information on upcoming performances, head to To peruse Rokia Traoré's Nonesuch catalog, head to the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include high-quality, 320 kbps MP3s at checkout.


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