Composer John Plant and author J.A. Wainwright have put music and lyrics together to tell the tale of the Polish immigrant who died in 2007 after being tasered multiple times by RCMP at Vancouver International Airport. Wainwright says that watching the incident, which was recorded by a passerby and shown repeatedly on TV, moved him to write the opera.
“Quite frankly, I got tired of seeing Robert Dziekanski die,” he tells the Canadian Press. “I wanted to see him live.”
I Will Fly Like a Bird chronicles the roughly 30-hour period between Dziekanski’s departure from Poland to his death. Plant tells the Vancouver Sun he’s come to feel “great affection” for his subject. “Of course, I never knew Robert Dziekanski, but I can’t help feeling I spent time in his company — the man as I’ve imagined him to be.”
I Will Fly Like a Bird will be presented in a concert version by the Scotia Festival of Music, without costumes or sets. Plant is hoping for a cross-country tour. He’d particularly like to see it produced on the west coast.
Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski will be in attendance at the premiere.
– Emily Olesen