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Opera Company of Philadelphia’s Aurora Series for Chamber Opera Presents Dark Sisters, A New American Opera with Music by Nico Muhly and Libretto by Stephen Karam

Opera Marks the First Production in OCP’s
American Repertoire Program


For Immediate Release:  May 24, 2012

Contact: Tracy C. Galligher, 215-893-5903,

Philadelphia, PA:  The Opera Company of Philadelphia’s Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater has produced four seasons of cutting-edge operatic works, and on June 8, 10m, 13, 15 and 17m, 2012, the new American opera Dark Sisters marks the first Aurora Series opera which the Opera Company of Philadelphia has played an active role in creating.  The opera features music by Nico Muhly – whose other recent commissions and premieres include Two Hearts for New York City Ballet and Two Boys for English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, and a libretto byStephen Karam, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his recent off-Broadway success, Sons of the Prophets, and whose play Speech and Debate has received over 80 productions in the U.S. and Canada. Dark Sisters was co-commissioned and co-produced by the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group and follows the story of a woman grappling with her life in a plural marriage.  Neal Goren, Artistic Director of Gotham Chamber Opera, conducts and Rebecca Taichman, whose recent off-Broadway run of Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando won critical acclaim, directs this new production created by Fifty-Nine Productions

Dark Sistersis the first opera in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s American Repertoire Program, a commitment to producing a new American opera in each of the next ten seasons.   It is also the anchor performance for this year’s national OPERA America Conference, being held in Philadelphia from June 13-16.

In a world where personal identity is forbidden, Dark Sisters is the story of one woman’s dangerous attempt to escape her life as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a polygamous sect based in the Southwestern United States.  Dark Sisters puts the women of the patriarchal FLDS sect front and center.  The narrative draws inspiration from the flurry of media attention surrounding the two most famous raids on FLDS compounds (the 1953 raid at Short Creek, AZ, and the 2008 raid at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, TX) as well as from the stories of the more than 80 wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

The cast, all of whom created the roles in the November 2011 World Premiere performances in New York, features a host of Opera Company of Philadelphia debuts, led by soprano Caitlin Lynch in the role of Eliza.  Lynch recently sang the role of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro with Glimmerglass Opera and Micaëla in Seattle Opera’s Carmen.  As the Prophet who later takes on the role of “King,” a talk-show personality, baritone Kevin Burdette makes his OCP debut, having also recently sung the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni  with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  The other wives are sung by a host of talented debuting artists, including mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti as Ruth; mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore as Presendia; and soprano Jennifer Zetlan as Zina.  Soprano Jennifer Check, who made her OCP debut in 2008 when she stepped on for an ailing colleague to sing the title role in Norma, sings the role of Almera, and soprano Kristina Bachrach makes her OCP debut as Lucinda, Eliza’s daughter.   The production features set and video design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer for Fifty-Nine Productions, with costume design by Miranda Hoffman, lighting design by Donald Holder, and choreography by Annie-B Parson.


Eliza CaitlIn Lynch* Conductor Neal Goren*
Ruth Eve Gigliotti* Director Rebecca Taichman*
Almera Jennifer Check Set Design Leo Warner* for 59 Productions
Presendia Margaret Lattimore* Video Design Leo Warner* and Mark Grimmer* for 59 Productions
Zina Jennifer Zetlan* Costume Design

Miranda Hoffman*

Prophet/King    Kevin Burdette* Lighting Design

Donald Holder*

Lucinda Kristina Bachrach* Choreographer Annie-B Parson*
    Hair & Make-Up Design    Gabrielle Vincent for Elsen Associates, Inc.












*Opera Company debut



The music of New York–based composerNico Muhly has been performed by such ensembles as eighth blackbird, the Britten Sinfonia, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, and sung by soloists including David Daniels, Mark Padmore, and Jessica Rivera. In addition to numerous recordings of his own music (available on Decca and Bedroom Community Records), he has collaborated on projects with Antony and the Johnsons, Björk, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi of Sigur Rós, and Teitur Lassen. His first opera, Two Boys, premiered at the English National Opera in June 2011. Recent and upcoming premieres include Two Hearts, a new collaboration with choreographer Benjamin Millepied, and Gait, composed for the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Great Britain.

Librettist Stephen Karam is the author of Sons of the Prophet (2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play), which recently ended its extended off-Broadway run in New York City (Roundabout Theatre Company) following its debut in Boston by the Huntington Theatre Company. Other plays include Speech & Debate (inaugural production of Roundabout Underground), columbinus (New York Theatre Workshop), and Girl on Girl (Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep). His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, American Theatre Magazine, Northwestern University Press and Dramatic Publishing Co.; he has also written online for NY Magazine, The Advocate and McSweeney’s. A MacDowell Colony Fellow, Stephen grew up in Scranton, PA and is a graduate of Brown University.

Rebecca Taichman (Director) Off-Broadway: Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando (Classic Stage Company); Theresa Rebeck’s The Scene, starring Tony Shalhoub and Patricia Heaton (Second Stage); Menopausal Gentleman (Obie Award). Regional: Twelfth Night,The Taming of the Shrew (The Shakespeare Theatre); premiere of David Adjmi’s The Evildoers (Yale Rep; Sundance Theater Lab); premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Woolly Mammoth, Helen Hayes nomination); premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s Mauritius (The Huntington, IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards); premiere of The Scene (Humana); Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House (Woolly Mammoth, 2006 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Play); Elise Thoron’s Green Violin, starring Raul Esparza (2003 Barrymore for Outstanding Direction), among others. Yale School of Drama graduate.

Neal Goren(Conductor) has conducted throughout the U. S. and in Europe. For Gotham Chamber Opera, he conducted critically acclaimed productions of Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione, Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (with period instruments), Martinu’s Hlas lesa and Les Larmes du couteau, Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne, Handel’s Arianna in Creta (with period instruments), Britten’s Albert Herring, Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino, Haydn’s L’isola disabitata, Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires, Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, and Montsalvatge’s El gato con botas. He led Gotham Chamber Opera’s co-production of Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco for Spoleto Festival USA and the Lincoln Center Festival in the summer of 2005, and conducted Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for Angers Opera (France) and Opéra de Nantes for the reopening of Théâtre Graslin in February 2004. He made his New York City Opera debut conducting The Magic Flute in November 2003. He has participated in numerous PBS telecasts including Pavarotti Plus! and the Richard Tucker Memorial Concerts. As a recital accompanist, Goren has performed with Leontyne Price (as her exclusive musical collaborator), Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, Håken Hagegård, Thomas Hampson, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Aprile Millo, Hermann Prey and others. He has been a member of the faculty of the graduate opera department of the Mannes College of Music since 1992 and served on the Board of Directors of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation from 1991-2003. In addition, he has served as a panelist for Opera America symposiums, is a regular guest on the Metropolitan Opera Quiz, a juror for numerous vocal competitions, and has given master classes in colleges and universities throughout the United States.



Gotham Chamber Operais the nation’s foremost opera company dedicated to producing rarely-performed chamber operas from the Baroque era to the present. The company’s mission is to present innovative, fully-staged productions of the highest quality in intimate venues.  Founded by conductor and Artistic Director Neal Goren in 2000, in its short history,Gotham Chamber Opera has presented seven U.S. premieres of 18th- and 20th-century operas, including such masterpieces as Mozart’s Il Sogno di Scipione; Darius Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée; Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu’s Dada opera, Les Larmes du Couteau; and Swiss composer Heinrich Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne.  In February 2005, Gotham presented the U.S. stage premiere of Handel’s Arianna in Creta.  Also in 2005, Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto Festival USA presented Gotham Chamber Opera’s U.S. premiere of Ottorino Respighi’s fantastical puppet opera, La bella dormente nel bosco, featuring the puppetry of Basil Twist.  In the spring of 2006, Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring received its first professional staging in New York in more than 30 years, and in winter 2007, Rossini’s Il signor Bruschino received its first major professional New York staging in over a half century.  In the 2007/2008 season, Gotham Chamber Opera celebrated dance with productions of Astor Piazzolla’s tango opera María de Buenos Aires, directed by David Parsons and featuring Parsons Dance, and with a new work entitled Ariadne Unhinged, directed by Karole Armitage and featuring members of Armitage Gone! Dance.   And in 2009, Mark Morris directed the U.S. stage premiere of Haydn’s L’isola disabitata.  Most recently, Gotham made news world-wide in 2010 for its high-tech production of Haydn’s Il mondo della luna staged in the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History and for Montsalvatge’s El gato con botas (Puss in Boots), at The New Victory Theater, staged by Tony Award-nominated director Moisés Kaufman with puppet design by Blind Summit Theatre.  For more information, visit

Music-Theatre Group, led by Producing Director Diane Wondisford, is dedicated to helping artists turn creative inspiration into dramatically compelling music-theatre works. For 40 years, we’ve been helping inspiration take flight by creating a collaborative community that enables artists to tap into the collective imagination and generate original works that tell stories driven by music. MTG is a place where composers, poets, playwrights, choreographers, designers and directors synthesize their creative spirits to make truly groundbreaking productions. Internationally renowned for its commitment to the creation of work that embraces different art forms, MTG has produced a stunning roster of music-theatre works, ranging from chambersized to full-scale operas and productions, including: Dr. Selavy’s  Magic Theatre (1972) by Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman, The Mother of Us All by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein, directed by Roland Gagnon (1972) and Stanley Silverman (1983), Nightclub Cantata (1977) by Elizabeth Swados, The Garden of Earthly Delights (1984) by Martha Clarke and Richard Peaslee, The Making of Americans (1985) by Al Carmines and Gertrude Stein, directed by Anne Bogart, Vienna: Lusthaus (1986) by Martha Clarke, Richard Peaslee, and Charles Mee, Juan Darien (1988) by Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, Cinderella/Cendrillon (1988) by Jules Massenet, with additional lyrics by Eve Ensler, directed by Anne Bogart, Extraordinary Measures (1995) by Eve Ensler and William Harper, with James Lecesne, Marco Polo (1996) by Tan Dun and Paul Griffiths, directed by Martha Clarke, Running Man (1999) by Diedre Murray and Cornelius Eady, directed by Diane Paulus, Best of Both Worlds (2005) by Randy Weiner, Diedre Murray and Diane Paulus, directed by Diane Paulus, and Arjuna’s Dilemma (2008) by Douglas J. Cuomo, directed by Robin Guarino. For more information, visit

Opera Company of Philadelphiais committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st Century.  OCP creates outstanding productions of both classic and new operatic works that resonate within the community; assembles the finest international creative artists and producing teams; and presents a wide array of programming that educates, deepens, and diversifies the opera audience in Philadelphia and beyond.  Performance offerings include large-scale works at the historic Academy of Music, intimate chamber operas as part of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater, and frequent community performances which focus on creative partnerships and enhanced accessibility. Under the leadership of General Director David B. Devan, OCP has launched the American Repertoire Program, a commitment to produce a new American work in each of the upcoming ten seasons, and the nation’s first collaborative Composer In Residence Program with New York’s Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group.  For more information, visit



Dark Sisters takes place at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad & Spruce Streets.

Performances are: Friday, June 8th at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, June 10th at 2:30 p.m.; Wednesday, June 13th at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 15th at 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 17th at 2:30 p.m.

Individual tickets priced from $21 – 132.   Call Ticket Philadelphia at 215-893-1018 or

The Opera Company’s 2012-2013 Season features Puccini’s La bohème, the new Kevin Puts & Mark Campbell opera Silent Night, and Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Academy of Music; and Curtis Opera Theatre’s Owen Wingrave by Benjamin Britten and OCP’s Powder Her Face by Thomas Adès and Philip Hensher at the Perelman Theater.  Subscriptions on sale now at operaphila.orgor 215-732-8400.




The Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater is generously underwritten by Wyncote Foundation. 

Dark Sisters received generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; and OPERA America’s Opera Fund.

US Airways is the official airline of the Opera Company.  YAMAHA is the official piano of the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Hyatt at the Bellevue is the official hotel of the Opera Company.  Burdumy Motors Incorporated is the official automotive dealership of the Opera Company.  Macy’s is the sponsor of Opera Overtures pre-opera talks before each performance. The Opera Company of Philadelphia is supported by major grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Lenfest Foundation, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative and the Philadelphia Music Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Wallace Foundation, The William Penn Foundation and Wyncote Foundation.  Additional support is provided by Beneficia Foundation, Independence Foundation, Jacob Burns Foundation, Inc., and OPERA America’s Opera Fund.  The Opera Company of Philadelphia receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.  General operating support is provided, in part, by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.