World Premiere

About The Opera

A suspenseful world premiere thriller, set against the gaslit and bloody backdrop of Victorian London.


Midwest Premiere

Directed by David Schweizer
Music by Kevin Puts & Libretto by Mark Campbell


On trial for her husband’s murder, Elizabeth weaves the story of her days in an English music hall, the people she meets, and the grisly slayings that begin not long after she joins the troupe. Her trial is complicated by the discovery of her husband’s diary and the shocking details within. Historical luminaries like George Gissing, Den Leno, and Karl Marx all make appearances in this dark and thrilling world premiere.

The Trial of Elizabeth CreeThe opera is based on the novel, The Trial of Elizabeth Cree by Peter Ackroyd, the famed English novelist and biographer of everyone from Charles Dickens to Alfred Hitchcock. A prolific writer, he’s presented BBC documentaries on London and Dickens and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The story, inspired by the killings of Jack the Ripper, was published under the title Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem in 1994. A film version released under the title The Limehouse Golem in 2016, starring Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke as Elizabeth Cree.

Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell are frequent collaborators. Together, they won a Pulitzer Prize for Silent Night, which had its premiere in 2012 with co-producer Opera Philadelphia. Puts will premiere a brand new opera written for Renee Fleming this Fall, and Cree is one of Campbell’s five new operas premiering in 2017. Performed in English with English supertitles.

Kevin Puts

Winner of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his debut opera Silent Night, Kevin Puts’s works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by leading 

ensembles, and soloists throughout the world, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jeffrey Kahane, Dame Evelyn Glennie, the New York Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchester (Zurich), the St. Paul Chamber
Orchestra, the Miro Quartet, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, St. Louis, and Minnesota. His newest orchestral work, The City, was co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in honor of its 100th anniversary and by Carnegie Hall in honor of its 125th anniversary.

Silent Night, commissioned and premiered by Minnesota Opera, has been produced at Fort Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, the Wexford Opera Festival, Calgary Opera, Montreal Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, with upcoming productions at Atlanta Opera, Opera San Jose, and Michigan Opera Theatre. In 2013, his choral works To Touch The Sky and If I Were A Swan were performed and recorded by Conspirare. His second opera, also commissioned by Minnesota Opera, The Manchurian Candidate, based on the novel, had its world premiere in 2015. A new vocal work for Soprano Renee Fleming and orchestra, based on the personal letters of Georgia O’Keeffe, will have its world premiere in New York in Fall 2016 and his first chamber opera, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s gothic novel The Trial of Elizabeth Cree commissioned by Opera Philadelphia will have its world premiere in 2017.

A former Composer-in-Residence of Young Concerts Artists, he is currently a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute and the Director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute  

Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell’s work as a librettist is at the forefront of this country’s current boon in contemporary opera. The fifteen plus librettos he has written—and the five new operas he premieres in 2017—demonstrate a versatility in subject matter, style, and tone, an adeptness at creating successful work for both large and intimate venues. The composers with whom he collaborates represent a roster of the most eminent composers in classical music, and include three Pulitzer Prize winners.

Mark’s most known work is Silent Night, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music and is one of the most frequently performed operas in recent history. After its premiere at Minnesota Opera, the work was broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances and continues to be produced by many opera companies around the country. His other successful operas include As OneLater the Same EveningVolponeBastianello/LucreziaManchurian Candidate, The InspectorApproaching AliA Letter to East 11th Street, and most recently, The Shining

Mark has received many other prestigious prizes for his work, including a Grammy® nomination for Best Classical Recording, the first Kleban Foundation Award for Lyricist, two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, three Drama Desk nominations, a Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, the first Dominic J. Pelliciotti Award, and a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts. 

As a musical theatre lyricist, Mark penned all of the lyrics for Songs from an Unmade Bed, a theatrical song cycle with music by eighteen composers that premiered at New York Theatre Workshop and has since been produced in many venues around the world. Other successful musicals include SplendoraThe Audience, and Chang & Eng

Mark is also an advocate for contemporary American opera and mentors future generations of writers through such organizations as American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theatre, the University of Colorado's New Opera Workshop, Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative and Opera Philadelphia's Composer-in-Residence Program.

Upcoming premieres in 2017 include: Elizabeth Cree for Opera Philadelphia (Kevin Puts, composer), Dinner at Eight for Minnesota Opera (William Bolcom, composer), Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera (Laura Kaminsky, composer; Kimberly Reed, co-librettist), The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke and Mr. Hare for Boston Lyric Opera (Julian Grant, composer) and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs for Santa Fe Opera (Mason Bates, composer).

Artists

Kevin Puts

Composer

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Winner of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his debut opera Silent Night, Kevin Puts’s works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by leading ensembles, and soloists throughout the world, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jeffrey Kahane, Dame Evelyn Glennie, the New York Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchester (Zurich), the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Miro Quartet, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, St. Louis, and Minnesota. His newest orchestral work, The City, was co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in honor of its 100th anniversary and by Carnegie Hall in honor of its 125th anniversary. Silent Night, commissioned and premiered by Minnesota Opera, has been produced at Fort Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, the Wexford Opera Festival, Calgary Opera, Montreal Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, with upcoming productions at Atlanta Opera, Opera San Jose, and Michigan Opera Theatre. In 2013, his choral works To Touch The Sky and If I Were A Swan were performed and recorded by Conspirare. His second opera, also commissioned by Minnesota Opera, The Manchurian Candidate, based on the novel, had its world premiere in 2015. A new vocal work for Soprano Renee Fleming and orchestra, based on the personal letters of Georgia O’Keeffe, will have its world premiere in New York in Fall 2016 and his first chamber opera, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s gothic novel The Trial of Elizabeth Cree commissioned by Opera Philadelphia will have its world premiere in 2017. A former Composer-in-Residence of Young Concerts Artists, he is currently a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute and the Director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute.

Mark Campbell

Librettist

Mark Campbell.jpeg

Mark Campbell’s work as a librettist is at the forefront of this country’s current boon in contemporary opera. The fifteen plus librettos he has written—and the five new operas he premieres in 2017—demonstrate a versatility in subject matter, style, and tone, an adeptness at creating successful work for both large and intimate venues. The composers with whom he collaborates represent a roster of the most eminent composers in classical music, and include three Pulitzer Prize winners.

Mark’s most known work is Silent Night, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music and is one of the most frequently performed operas in recent history. After its premiere at Minnesota Opera, the work was broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances and continues to be produced by many opera companies around the country. His other successful operas include As OneLater the Same EveningVolponeBastianello/LucreziaManchurian Candidate, The InspectorApproaching AliA Letter to East 11th Street, and most recently, The Shining

Mark has received many other prestigious prizes for his work, including a Grammy® nomination for Best Classical Recording, the first Kleban Foundation Award for Lyricist, two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, three Drama Desk nominations, a Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, the first Dominic J. Pelliciotti Award, and a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts. 

As a musical theatre lyricist, Mark penned all of the lyrics for Songs from an Unmade Bed, a theatrical song cycle with music by eighteen composers that premiered at New York Theatre Workshop and has since been produced in many venues around the world. Other successful musicals include SplendoraThe Audience, and Chang & Eng

Mark is also an advocate for contemporary American opera and mentors future generations of writers through such organizations as American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theatre, the University of Colorado's New Opera Workshop, Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative and Opera Philadelphia's Composer-in-Residence Program.

Upcoming premieres in 2017 include: Elizabeth Cree for Opera Philadelphia (Kevin Puts, composer), Dinner at Eight for Minnesota Opera (William Bolcom, composer), Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera (Laura Kaminsky, composer; Kimberly Reed, co-librettist), The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke and Mr. Hare for Boston Lyric Opera (Julian Grant, composer) and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs for Santa Fe Opera (Mason Bates, composer).

David Schweizer

Director

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David Schweizer emerged from Yale Drama School to make his New York debut at the age of twenty-four at Lincoln Center opening the brand new Mitzi Newhouse Theater with his radical version of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida for producer Joseph Papp. And, some decades later, he returned to Lincoln Center with his acclaimed staging of Richard Rodney Bennett’s opera The Mines Of Sulphur for the New York City Opera. Over the years he has always directed a vastly eclectic mix of theatrically innovative work in a wide range of styles and venues. Early career highlights include world premiere productions by such playwrights as Sam Shepard, Michael Weller, Albert Innaurato, Maria Irene Fornes, Len Jenkin, Ronald Tavel, Austin Pendleton, and many others in New York City. More recent work off-Broadway/ Charles Mee’s Wintertime at Second Stage, William Hamilton’s White Chocolate at Century Playhouse, Mark Campbells Songs From An Unmade Bed at the New York Theater Workshop and his critically-acclaimed collaborations with composer/performer Rinde Eckert, And God Created Great Whales (OBIE Award) and Horizon (Lucille Lortel Award). His extensive work in both new and “old” opera theater includes Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring (Gotham Opera) Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good (Glimmerglass Festival) several notable Verdi productions- Macbetto at Boston Lyric Opera and Giovnna D’arco at Chicago Opera Theater. His production of Victory Ullmann’s The Emperor Of Atlantis in Boston was a ten best of the year NY Times pick. His many works for the innovative Long Beach Opera include Thomas Ades Powder Her Face, Michael Nymann’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Antonio Vivaldi’s Montezuma and many others. He has directed extensively at most prominent regional and international theaters including Arena Stage, Trinity Rep, Yale Rep, The Mark Taper  Forum, Geffen Playhouse,  Children’s Theater Company (Minneapolis), Magic Theater, and Center Stage (Baltimore) where his new production of  Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline Or Change and Melanie Marnich’s These Shining Lives (world premiere) are notable among his many shows there. Numerous international residences in Warsaw, Krakow, Lisbon, Hamburg, London (his own adaptation of Platos Symposium at the ICA) Stockholm (a tour of his collaboration with Theatre X, Foucalt’s A HISTORY OF SEXUALITY) and Toga Village, Japan. Schweizer’s work with performance and solo artists includes Ann Magnuson (You Could Be Home Now, Rave Mom in New York and LA) Sandra Tsing Loh (Aliens In America, Sugar Plum Fairy LA and touring) John Fleck, Carmelita Tropicana, Mark Wolf and most recently Marga Gomez (Los Big Names in NYC and Love Birds in San Francisco) and Mike Albo.

Geoffrey McDonald

Conductor

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Geoffrey McDonald commands a broad repertoire with extensive experience in operatic, symphonic, and choral conducting. Hailed by The Philadelphia Inquirer as a “promising and confident” member of the new generation of American conductors, Maestro McDonald is consistently praised for his musicality and versatility on the podium. The New York Times describes him as “an agile conductor…whose pacing is sure in both reflective and restless passages," and the New York Observer praises his "original and flexible musical imagination."

As Music Director of New York City's On Site Opera, Geoffrey’s passion for promoting new or neglected pieces with fresh and innovative presentations was evidenced in the critically-acclaimed, immersive production of Paisiello’s Barbiere di Siviglia in the summer of 2015. Of the production, Opera News wrote “McDonald led with brio and admirable ensemble,” while the New York Times noted “Geoffrey McDonald, drew stylish, nimble playing.” In past seasons, Maestro McDonald led productions of Handel's Orlando and Alcina, partnering with stage director R.B. Schlather to create inventive art-installation-opera. The New York Observer stated “Conductor Geoffrey McDonald repeated the miracle of nuanced coordination between orchestra and singers he recently accomplished with Orlando downtown.”

In the 2016-2017 season, Geoffrey appears as a guest conductor with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and will be joined by the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble in On Site Opera's production of Milhaud's La Mere Coupable. He will be conducting workshops and performances with Opera Philadelphia and National Sawdust, and will lead On Site's/Atlanta Opera's co-production of Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera. In Europe, he has been invited to make his German theater debut with Theater und Orchester Neubrandenburg/Neustrelitz for their production of Kálmán's Csardasfürstin, and invited to guest conduct Smetana's Ma Vlast with the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra in Prague.

In 2014, Maestro McDonald was honored to conduct a performance of The Gotham Chamber Opera's production of El gato con botas. Of his work on Baroque operas, Parterre Box noted that his “graceful musical direction revealed an appealing affinity for Handel's music.” In performances of Stravinsky and “Les Six” with the American Symphony Orchestra at the Bard Summer Music Festival, Musical America noted “McDonald conjured a delectable blend of sass and refinement from the Bard Festival Chamber Players”. 

In addition to his active freelance career, Geoffrey has already established an impressive record as an engaging conductor-educator, serving as Music Director of the Longy Conservatory Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Maestro McDonald has also served as Music Director of the Bard College Orchestra (2011-15), the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (2010-13), and the Columbia University Bach Society (2009-12). He was Assistant Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (2009-14), with whom he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2012. He has also served as Assistant Conductor and Workshop Conductor for Opera Philadelphia.

McDonald earned his masters in orchestral conducting at Mannes College of Music, where he was the recipient of the Alma Askin Scholarship, the Felix Salzer Techniques of Music Award, and the Mannes Theory Essay Prize. Upon earning his bachelors degree (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Princeton University in musicology, McDonald was awarded the inaugural Edward T. Cone Memorial Prize for excellence in combining music scholarship and performance. He studied piano, cello, and voice, and is a sought-after vocal coach, working with accomplished singers who appear on the world’s top stages.


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  • Performances

  • Feb. 10
  • Feb. 16
  • Feb. 18
  • Venue

  • The Studebaker Theater
    410 S Michigan Ave
    Chicago, IL 60605
  • Duration & Language

  • Approx. 1 hour and 45 minutes
    Performed in English with English supertitles
  • Sponsors

  • Co-Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Hackney Empire

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Stefan Edlis & Gael Neeson Artistic Director

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