Shanewis (or The Robin Woman) (1918) is an opera in one act and two scenes by Charles Wakefield Cadman with an English libretto by Nelle Richmond Eberhart.[1]

They collaborated with Tsianina Redfeather Blackstone, a Cherokee/Creek singer, who contributed elements from her life for the contemporary plot related to Native American issues.[2] She sang the lead role in her opera debut when it was performed in Denver in 1924, and also performed in Los Angeles in 1926.

Performance history

The opera, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on March 23, 1918, is the first American opera to have been presented at the Metropolitan Opera for more than a single season.[1] Over a two-season span, it was staged eight times. The opera was later performed in Denver in 1924 and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in 1926.[3][4]

At the Denver performance of 1924, the title role was performed by soprano Tsianina Redfeather Blackstone (Creek) in her operatic debut. She also sang the lead in Los Angeles.[4] Redfeather had earlier been a touring partner of Cadman when he lectured and performed Native American music.[2]

Redfeather collaborated on the libretto of the opera although she received no official credit. She provided much of the semi-autobiographical plot elements.[5]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, March 23, 1918[1]
(Conductor: Roberto Maranzoni)
Shanewis Mezzo-soprano Sophie Braslau
Mrs. J. Asher Everton Contralto Kathleen Howard
Amy Everton Soprano Marie Sundelius
Lionel Rhodes Tenor Paul Althouse
Philip Harjo Baritone Thomas Chalmers
California society people; Oklahoma Indians, half-breeds and whites Metropolitan Opera Chorus


  1. "'Shanewis,' Indian Opera, Captivates" (PDF). The New York Times. March 24, 1918. p. 19.
  2. Pamela Karantonis, Dylan Robinson. Opera Indigene: Re/presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures, Routledge, 2016, p. 178
  3. "Cadman's 'Shanewis' Pleases Hollywood" (PDF). The New York Times. June 26, 1926. p. 13.
  4. Beverly Diamond, "Decentering Opera: Early Twentieth-Century Indigenous Production," in Pamela Karantonis and Dylan Robinson, eds., Opera Indigene: Re/Presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures (Ashgate 2011): p. 33.
  5. "Shanewis: Performance History". OperaGlass, Stanford University. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
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