The Okavango MacbethOkavango Macbeth Cover

A chamber opera with music by Tom Cunningham to a libretto by Alexander McCall Smith. Set in the Botswana Okavango Delta, it tells a story of the struggle for power among competing baboons in their matriarchal society - thus drawing parallels with the Macbeth story.



Male Primatologist (baritone),
Assistant (baritone, can also sing Duncan),
Female Primatologist (soprano),
Lady Macbeth (soprano),
Lady Macbeth's friend (mezzo-soprano),
Macbeth (tenor),
Duncan (baritone),
Chorus (with solos).
Piano accompaniment.


The idea for this opera came when Alexander McCall Smith was on a wildlife safari holiday with friends in Botswana's Okavango Delta. He says: I knew that there were two distinguished American primatologists, Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth, in the region who had spent some years researching baboon behaviour. I asked our river guide if he could take our boat across to where they worked. I had read their remarkable book (Baboon Metaphysics) which looks at how baboons view the world. I was struck by the hierarchical nature of baboon society and by the status and role of powerful females. It seemed to me that the essential elements of the Macbeth story could well be told in the context of baboon society. I sounded out the composer, Tom Cunningham, and we decided that this was a theme worthy of opera.

First performed on 3rd October 2009 at the No.1 Ladies' Opera House, Gaborone, Botswana

Before staging this work, a performing licence must be obtained from Goodmusic.

Duration 90 minutes