Information and short synopsis of operas represented by BTM, including works in progress.

Please contact us if you have any questions or specific programming requirements.

Monodramas

Jack Beeson

Practice in the Art of Elocution, soprano, piano, 30′.
What is opera, and how do you do it? Adapted by the composer from the writings of Françoise Delsarte and Frances P Hoyle-Pogle, and from the poems of Rupert Brooke, Longfellow and an anonymous parodist, and JW Riley.

Susan Kander

dwb (driving while black), Black female soprano or mezzo, cello and percussion, 40′ (one act).
A Black mother ponders as her teenage son learns to drive while Black in today’s volatile society. Libretto by Roberta Gumbel.

Douglas Knehans

Backwards from Winter, soprano, electric cello, electronics, video, 60′ (one act).
Backwards from Winter explores a single woman’s reflection on a love relationship as seen through various elemental filters of seasons, color, nature, emotion and memory and told through live voice, live electronic/computer music and multiple video streams. Libretto by Juanita Rockwell.

Luna Pearl Woolf

Jacqueline, soprano and cello, 90′ (two acts).
Jacqueline is a powerful opera for virtuosic cellist and soprano, exploring the talent and tragedy of Jacqueline du Pré and her relationship with her cello. The opera animates the struggle of du Pré’s changing identity as the one thing that most defined her is cut away by Multiple Sclerosis. Brought to life by two contemporary virtuosi, celebrated American soprano Marnie Breckenridge plays Jacqueline, and former du Pré protégé and world-renowned cellist Matt Haimovitz plays her constant companion, her cello. Libretto by Royce Vavrek.

Chamber Opera Without Chorus

Jack Beeson

Dr. Heidegger and the Fountain of Youth, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, female speaker; chamber orchestra, 42′ (one-act).
Is it just a simple quest for water to quench thirst, or instead, a search for the mythical fountain of youth in music and metaphor? Sheldon Harnick after a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Hello Out There, soprano, baritone, tenor (minor role), 2 speakers, mime; 1(=picc).1.1.1-1.1.0.0-timp.perc(=harm)-1.1.1.1.1 (min.), 40′ (one act).
A tragic story. A jail. A young man and a young woman. Another woman and her husband. Who’s right and who’s wrong, and would there be a way out? Adapted by the composer from the play by William Saroyan
Sorry, Wrong Number, soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, baritone, lyric baritone, bass; plus 2 minor roles; chamber ensemble of 9 musicians, 40′ (one-act).
Think twice before you pick up the phone….Adapted by the composer from the play by Lucille Fletcher.

Jeremy Howard Beck

The Long Walk, 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 3 trebles, high tenor, lyric tenor, baritone, bass-baritone; chamber orchestra, 150′ (two acts).
The Long Walk is a deeply personal exploration of a soldier’s return from Iraq, where he served as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. Upon returning from the war, Brian Castner battles what he calls “the Crazy” as he struggles to reintegrate into his family life. Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann.

Vincent Calianno

[escala.], (2002) 300’ Saxophone, Accordion, Low String Quintet

Advent Day, (1999) 1445’, Fl, ASax, Perc, Gt, Voice(s), 3Organs, 2Vc, Cb

Gerald Cohen

Sarah and Hagar, (2008) English, 135’ Sop, 2 mez, 2 ten, 3 bari, bass; Flute, Clarinet in Bb, Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano
Based on the powerful story in the Book of Genesis about the origins of the Jewish and the Arab peoples, and about the intense personal struggle that goes on in the family of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar over the birth of their children Ishmael and Isaac. Libretto by Charles Kondek

Steal a Pencil for Me, soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, 2 baritones, 2 bass-baritones, bass; chamber ensemble of 14 musicians, 120′ (two acts).
Inspired by real-life events, the opera tells the story of Holocaust survivors Jaap Polak and Ina Soep; how the lovers supported each other during the incredible hardship at a concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Libretto by Deborah Brevoort.

Michael Gilbertson

Breaking, soprano, mezzo-soprano, bass, tenor; flute, clarinet, horn, percussion, piano, string quartet, 20′ (one-act).
Breaking explores the dark side of the 24-hour news cycle and the dangerous line between journalism and entertainment. A young reporter, Johanna, finally gets her moment in the spotlight during a live hostage situation, but quickly discovers how harmful a constant stream of information can be. Libretto by Caroline McGraw.

Denis Levaillant

O.P.A. Mia (My Tender Bid)(1987-1989) French, 84’ (one-act), two singers, two actors, chorus; chamber orchestra
A business transaction? A bid for love? Levaillant’s opera, My Tender Bid, unveils an eclectic, topsy-turvy world, one where bankers might rule, but love might win at the end…

Osnat Netzer

The Wondrous Woman Within, Soloist: Coloratura Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, 2 Baritones; Male Speaking Role; Chamber Orchestration: fl(pic.afl.rec), cl(bcl), asx(ssx.barsx), tbn, perc, pf(syn), vn, va, vc, db, 100′ (two acts).
Mauritzia is adored by Chutner, who tirelessly attends to her and woos her despite her indifference. The only man she welcomes into her bed is her lover Jorge. When she and her companion Poomptz swap homes for a month with Madagaskar and her companion Hotchks, Madagaskar’s own nuisance suitor, Loxner, comes along. Loxner and Chutner become rivals for what little attention Madagaskar is willing to provide. Adopting disguises, the two suitors do everything in their power to win Madagaskar’s heart, with no success. When Mauritzia and Madagaskar return to their own homes at the end of the month, Chutner disguises himself as Jorge, confusing Mauritzia and giving him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…. Adapted by the composer from the play of the same name by Hanoch Levin.

Frank J. Oteri

MACHUNAS, dramatic soprano, male singer (non-professional), 8-women vocal ensemble chamber ensemble of 13 musicians (with doublings), 150′ (four acts).
A reminiscence in four colors of the life and work of George Maciunas, founder of the Fluxus Movement. Co-writer: Lucio Pozzi.

Mathew Rosenblum

RedDust, soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, four dancers, video artist, surround-sound audio, and chamber orchestra. 90′ (one-act).
RedDust is focused through the perspective of the central character, a Chinese author, Shi-yin. Shi-yin is caught in a crisis of conscience and is unable to write. He had an affair with a young girl that ended in her suicide. He tries repeatedly to exorcise his feelings of guilt and confusion and rediscover his creative impulse, by writing the story of a stone that comes to life as a young boy. The boy-stone is taken on a journey of discovery by the Taoist Fairy of Disenchantment. The boy is led by the Fairy through life-defining experiences, confronts the inaccessibility of the future, the gulf between words and meaning, and the illusion of love, learning a lesson of detachment that helps author Shi-yin confront his own demons and set pen to page once more.

Luna Pearl Woolf

Better Gods, soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, 2 basses, 3 non-singing actors; 14 musicians, (Hawaiian percussion instruments for rent), 60′ (one-act).
Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch, must choose between her country’s independence and the safety of her people. Libretto by Caitlin Vincent.

Chamber Opera With Chorus

Jack Beeson

Lizzie Borden, dramatic coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, lyric baritone, bass-baritone; small children’s chorus; chamber orchestra of 18 musicians, 90′ (one-act).
Chamber Version is available in seven scenes. Realized by Charles Tolliver (orchestration), in collaboration with John Conklin (dramaturgy). Driven to familial violence, this visceral tale of the famed axe-murderous Lizzie Borden feels all too topical for today’s volatile society. Libretto by Kenward Elmslie after a scenario by Richard Plant.

My Heart’s in the Highland, (1969) English, 100’ (two acts), girl soprano, alto, boy soprano, boy alto, dramatic tenor, tenor, 2 baritones, bass-baritone, bass, 3 speakers; chorus; chamber orchestra of 18 musicians, adapted by the composer from the play by William Saroyan.
Life in a small town during early 1900s in California. People facing hardships and times are difficult. A mysterious figure appears and charmed the residents. Is he finally bearing good news? 

(In collaboration with Boosey & Hawkes)

Andrea Clearfield

MILA: Great Sorcerer(2018) English, Tibetan, 180’ (two acts), 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, high tenor, tenor, 3 baritones, bass, opera chorus; 17-person chamber orchestra.
Folk hero, singer, and spiritual teacher, Milarepa has been venerated for one thousand years. But as a child, directed by his mother, he wields black magic against the aunt and uncle that stole his inheritance and destroys his entire village. His remorse sends him on a life journey from mass murder to enlightenment. Set to lush orchestration melding Eastern and Western sounds, his transformation and redemption into the most revered teacher of Tibetan Buddhism offer hope and spiritual wayfinding to all who regret acts of consequence and seek higher ground. Libretto by Jean Claude van Itallie, Lois Walden

Susan Kander

The News from Poems, mezzo-soprano, lyric baritone, bass-baritone, tenor; chorus: 8 SATB (optional 2 treble boys, 1 girl); clarinet (triples bs. cl, alto sax), cello, piano; 120′ (two acts).
Genius, Ambition: what happens to those in the wake of such magnetic, cyclonic energy? William Carlos Williams, his wife Flossie, and Ezra Pound. Libretto by Susan Kander, using the writing of Williams, Flossie Williams and Pound.

(In collaboration with Subito Music Corporation)

Full Opera Without Chorus

Vincent Calianno

Beckett, (2004), English, 60’, Sop, Countertenor, Fl, Ob, Cl, Sx, Bn, Tr, Tn, 2Perc, Hp, Pf, Gt, Accordion, 0.0.2.2.2, Pre-Recorded Electronics, Opera with one act. Libretto by Vincent Calianno.

Osnat Netzer

The Wondrous Woman Within, Soloist: Coloratura Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, 2 Baritones; Male Speaking Role; Orchestration: 1(pic.afl.rec).1.1(bcl).asx(ssx.barsx).1(cbn)/1.1.1.0/2perc/acc/pf/str(min11112), 100′ (two acts).
Mauritzia is adored by Chutner, who tirelessly attends to her and woos her despite her indifference. The only man she welcomes into her bed is her lover Jorge. When she and her companion Poomptz swap homes for a month with Madagaskar and her companion Hotchks, Madagaskar’s own nuisance suitor, Loxner, comes along. Loxner and Chutner become rivals for what little attention Madagaskar is willing to provide. Adopting disguises, the two suitors do everything in their power to win Madagaskar’s heart, with no success. When Mauritzia and Madagaskar return to their own homes at the end of the month, Chutner disguises himself as Jorge, confusing Mauritzia and giving him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…. Adapted by the composer from the play of the same name by Hanoch Levin.

Full Opera With Chorus

H. Leslie Adams

Blake, (1984) English, evening-length, 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, tenor (high baritone), baritone, bass; minor roles, young boy (spoken part); chorus; full orchestra, Libretto by Daniel Mayers after the novel by Martin Delany.
BLAKE is the story of young love, forced separation, and the search for one another and true love in the Antebellum South. Suggested by an idea from a 19th century American novel by Martin Delany (1812-85), Blake recounts the story of a slave who resolves to lead his people out of bondage and to a life of dignity. The libretto presents Blake’s quest against a background of intrigues involving the slave’s authoritative master and the separation of Blake and his wife, Miranda, who is given away as a gift.

(In collaboration with ACA)

Jack Beeson

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, (1975) English, 120’ (three acts), Lyric soprano, dramatic soprano, mezzo-soprano (plays piano), 3 tenors, lyric baritone (plays violin), bass baritone, 7 basses; chorus; full orchestra. A romantic comedy of music in three acts. Libretto by Sheldon Harnick after the play by Clyde Fitch.
One of several collaborations between Beeson and Sheldon Harnick, lyricist of the beloved musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, and more. This colorful romantic comedy reinvents Clyde Fitch’s dashing turn of the century play, with a nod to La Traviata.

Cyrano, (1990) English, German, 140’ (three acts), soprano, alto, 2 tenors, baritone, bass-baritone, bass, supporting roles (6 doubled, 6 from chorus): 3 sopranos, 4 mezzos, 5 tenors, 3 baritones, bass-baritone, 3 basses; 3 or 4 children, 2 actors, chorus; full orchestra Heroic comedy in music. Libretto by Sheldon Harnick based on the play by Edmond Rostand. The legendary tale of Cyrano de Bergerac as told by Jack Beeson and Sheldon Harnick.

Lizzie Borden, (1965) English, 120’ (three acts). Dramatic coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, lyric baritone, bass-baritone; small children’s chorus; full orchestra. Opera with Children’s Chorus. Libretto by Kenward Elmslie after a scenario by Richard Plant.
Driven to familial violence, this visceral tale of the famed axe-murderous Lizzie Borden feels all too topical for today’s volatile society.

The Sweet Bye and Bye, (1956) English, 105’ (two acts), 2 dramic sopranos, coloratura sorpano, mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, 2 bass baritrones, 4 dancers, 1 pop soprano, 2 child actors (silent); full orchestra. Libretto by Kenward Elmslie.
Christian evangelism at its most rousing and conflicted. Holy truth or cultish lies? 

(In collaboration with Boosey & Hawkes)

Susan Kander

The Giver, (2012) English, 90’ (one-act), Sop, mezzo, 2 bar, treble (12-14), young soprano (12), young mezzo (8-10), SSA Chorus or SATB Chorus (both available), Children’s Chorus; 2 vln, vc, pno, hp, fl (picc/alto), Bb cl (Eb/bass), trb, 3 perc, Young People’s Opera. Based on the novel by Lois Lowry.
Based on Lois Lowry’s pivotal book of the same title, young Jonas’s dystopian society mirrors our current world.

(In collaboration with Subito Music Corporation)

 

Operas in Progress

Jeremy Howard Beck

Another City an opera in five movements,  Approximately 80 minutes (no intermission), 3 sopranos, 3 mezzo-sopranos, 4 tenors, 2 baritones, 8-piece: 2 saxophones, 2 keyboards, electric guitar, bass, 2 percussion. Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann. Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera; World Premiere Houston, TX, March 2023.
This powerfully moving exploration of homelessness, by the creators of The Long Walk, presents the collective voices of a city in search of the meaning of home. Created in response to in-depth interviews and conversations with Houston’s homeless community, Another City’s kaleidoscopic web of intersecting stories chronicles a single day and night in the lives of those experiencing homelessness and those working to help however they can. As housing is lost, gained, and carried as memory, the opera asks “How do we bridge the chasm between the city we can see and the one we can’t—a city which is all around us but invisible, hiding in plain sight?”

Vincent Calianno

L’Astronome [Act 1: Apeiron], (2021) Two Trains, 4Fl, 2Ob, 4Cl, 4Sx, 2Bn, 3Tr, 3Tn, Tba, Perc, 2Pf, Strings, Pre-Recorded Electronics, Wind Ens. Opera in nine parts.

Gerald Cohen

Amid the Alien Corn, A setting of a poem by E. Louise Beach, based on the first chapter of the biblical Book of Ruth.
Naomi is returning to the land of Judah after living in Moab, having left Judah 10 years before because of a famine there.  In that time she has seen her two sons marry Moabite women, and then experienced the death of her husband and both sons. She plans to return to Judah alone, but her daughter-in-law Ruth expresses her love and loyalty for Naomi and her people, and persists in her requests to leave her native land and accompany Naomi to Judah.

Mary Shelley, One act, 90-100 minutes in length, Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass; Orchestra of 10 players (winds, strings, piano, percussion). Libretto by Catherine Filloux, Cori Ellison, Dramaturg.
The story of Frankenstein is nearly universally known. Less well known is the story of its creator, Mary Shelley. The opera Mary Shelley illuminates Mary’s life leading up to the writing of Frankenstein, as well as the time period in which it was created. The work tells the story from Mary’s perspective, looking at how her life contributed to her creative brilliance.

Fang Man

Golden Lily, opera in 3 Acts 9 Scenes, Duration approximately 120-150 minutes with intermissions, 3 soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, countertenor, bass-baritone, chorus, Full Orchestra or Wind Ensemble. Libretto by Jie Guo and Craig Lucas.
Golden Lily is arguably the most infamous femme fatale in Chinese literature. As a murderess who poisoned her first husband in cold blood, she is comparable in ferocity to Elektra, Salome, and many other controversial heroines in opera history.
Golden Lily is the first opera of a trilogy-in-progress that also features two other titular characters, Little Vase and Spring Plum, from the infamous Chinese novel, The Plum in the Golden Vase.

Kui Dong

Hutong, soprano, mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, speaking role; violin, piano, percussion, duration TBD.
A comic opera in fifteen parts about the whimsical nature of urban coincidence and the white space between vignettes. Libretto by Monica Datta and Paul Schick, Story by Monica Datta.

Susan Kander

Carry My Own Suitcase, Duration 90-100 minutes without intermission, Soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, 1 actor with musical skills, 1 dancer, Trombone, trumpet, 2 clarinets, bassoon, percussion, 2 violins, cello, double bass. Libretto by Roberta Gumbel and Susan Kander. Workshop March 2023 at University of Kansas School of Music.
Roger, 25, wants what everyone wants at that age: independence, respect, to stand on his own two feet. But Roger, portrayed simultaneously by an actor and a dancer, has profound autism. For him and his family the need to take that step into the future arrives suddenly. How did we get here? What now?
(In collaboration with Subito Music Coporation)

Todd Tarantino

Appeal for Identification, Opera in Seven Tableaux, Duration: 120 minutes, Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass soloists, SATB, small orchestra, Libretto: in English, Hindi, and Anglo-Saxon by the composer.
Who speaks for Body 37, one of the many unidentified corpses whose images appear in the local New Delhi newspapers? Who can tell of beginnings, embodied existence, the feel of words in the mouth, blankets before sleep, home, the presence of others, a journey, work, a life lived? Only the body speaks, the dry teeth; only the empty land, the very stones. Appeal for Identification composes a life in seven tableaux.

Luna Pearl Woolf

A Prayer for Owen Meany, 4 lead roles, 5 supporting/shared roles, small children’s choir, chamber orchestra (TBC), Duration ~110, On the novel by John Irving. Libretto by Luna Pearl Woolf and John Irving.
A rollicking trip through Irving’s most beloved and operatic novel. By turns profound, absurd, irreverent and nostalgic, the story of Owen Meany is an enigma of fate, faith, friendship, and identity.

The Limit of the Sun, An opera in two acts, Duration: (TBC) 110, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone; String Quartet and Electronics, Forces: (TBC). Libretto by Andrea Stolowitz.
A complex relationship develops between the mother of a kidnapped journalist and her son’s young minder, who, after the son’s death in captivity, connects with the mother and is lured into federal custody in the West.

The Pillar, (In dev. 2019) English c.120s’ (two acts), 4 singers, orchestra TBD, libretto by David Van Taylor.
In The Pillar, a prominent woman confronts the tragic consequences of her own compromise. Embracing a role that brought her position and affluence, Ruth centered her whole life on her husband Bernie, a seeming pillar of the community.  When he is finally revealed as a world-class confident man and gaslighter, all of her choices—indeed her very identity—comes into question. Digging beneath the surface of a historic scandal, The Pillar unearths an all-too-timely parable of corruption, complicity, family dysfunction, and the nature of contemporary love.