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Past Project



The Lives & Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt

Composer, Missy Mazzoli

Librettist, Royce Vavrek


Conductor, Fernanda Lastra

Stage Director, Risikat Okedeyi

Saturday, May 21 at 2p.m. & 7p.m.
August Wilson African American Cultural Center

An opera in one act by Missy Mazzoli with a libretto by Royce Vavrek and Mazzoli. It is inspired by the life of Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Eberhardt. “Inspired by the fascinating salvaged journals of early-twentieth-century explorer Isabelle Eberhardt, the 2012 chamber opera has been called “powerful” (The Wall Street Journal) and “a captivating multimedia spectacle” (The New York Times). 


At age 21, after the death of her father, mother, and brother in quick succession, she travelled alone to Algeria. She dressed as a man, converted to Islam, and joined a Sufi order, roamed the desert on horseback, and fell in love with an Algerian soldier. After surviving an attempted assassination and a failed suicide pact with her lover, Isabelle drowned in a desert flash flood at age 27. Her journals were salvaged from the wreckage. This is her song.” - Beth Morrison Projects

Singing Isabelle Eberhardt is Amanda Van Story, the first Black woman to star in the opera.  Zuly Inirio will sing for the matinee performance.

In an exciting culmination of a collaboration that started in 2017, Kassia Ensemble will also premiere Kassia by Judith Shatin. The Ensemble, comprised of the unusual instrumentation of string quintet, harp and clarinet, performs for the first time as a complete septet in this video presentation. Kassia, the namesake of the group and work, was a 9th-century Byzantine abbess, poet and hymnographer, and is likely the first woman whose music has survived until now. Shatin draws on melodic fragments of two of Kassia’s major chants, The Fallen Woman and Augustus, the Monarch. The music opens gently then builds to crise of torment, resolving to dreams of a world beyond. This project was made possible with funding from the Sparkplug Foundation and Opportunity Fund of Pittsburgh.


Produced by DEMASKUS Theater Collective as part of B.U.I.L.D Residency in collaboration with Kassia Ensemble and Amanda Van Story Lewis.

This program is a part of AWAACC’s B.U.I.L.D. Residency program was made possible with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Song From The Uproar was originally commissioned by Linda & Stuart Nelson, Chris Ahearn & Marla Mayer, and Beth Morrison Projects. Supported by a grant from the MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. World premiere at The Kitchen in 2012 and West Coast premiere with LA Opera in 2015.

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