Vital People: Flight of the Hummingbird a message of moral courage

On the surface, The Flight of the Hummingbird is a story of how the smallest bird in the world unites his fellow forest animals to help save their home from a wildfire.

But audiences soon realize that the moral of the story is a call to action and how any individual, regardless how small, can be a changemaker to inspire the whole community to act.

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“Imagine the image of a hummingbird flying with a tiny drop of water to fight a forest fire,” said Ian Rye, CEO of Pacific Opera. “It is a story of how the forest animals, by coming together, could overcome overwhelming odds. It is a metaphor on climate change and selfempowerment that we find resonates with both children and adults.”

The parable originated in South America and was brought to the Pacific Northwest through pre-colonial trade routes, it is believed.

With a message of environmentalism and moral courage, The Flight of the Hummingbird is the first opera for young audiences co-produced and co-commissioned by Pacific Opera Victoria and Vancouver Opera.

The interpretation of the parable at the centre of the opera was made by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, an Indigenous artist, in collaboration with other Indigenous artists and advisers.

The creation of the opera not only creates a forum for underrepresented Canadian voices, but also an opportunity for emerging artists.

The 45-minute performance is performed mainly for school audiences by a touring company. To date, the piece has been performed in more than 100 schools in British Columbia.

The cast is made up of all Canadian performers and artists.

School performances of The Flight of the Hummingbird also come with an educational resource, to best engage youth on dialogues on environmental, social and cultural themes.

“We have included a study guide, so that youth can engage in conversations to explore the theme,” said Rye.

Apart from operatic music, the production includes sophisticated visuals that capture the attention of youth.

The Flight of the Hummingbird is made possible through support from individuals, corporations, different levels of government and foundations, including the Hugh and Helen Mogensen Fund, the Alice May Salmon Foundation Fund and the Patricia Margaret Shanahan Fund through the Victoria Foundation.

Performances have been put on indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but educators are encouraged to contact Pacific Opera to book a performance on a future tour.

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