For the third season of our Opera ATX initiative, Austin Opera presents – in collaboration with Fusebox – Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Penelope, October 1 and 2, 2020, at The North Door, a performance space on Austin’s East Side. Featuring lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, Penelope is a modern twist on the ancient tale of Homer’s Odyssey and marks the first production in company history written by women.
Suspended somewhere between art song, indie rock, and chamber folk, Snider’s music moves from moments of elegiac strings-and-harp reflection to dusky post-rock textures with drums, guitars, and electronics, all united by a strong sense of melody and a well-hewn approach to songwriting. This new production features new projected artwork by Miwa Matreyek.
Penelope stars smoky-voiced contralto Shara Nova, the lead singer and songwriter of the band My Brightest Diamond, who is described by Snider as a “voice that has a very distinct feel and iconic character.” A classically trained opera singer, Ms. Nova has recorded with David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Sufjan Stevens, and David Lang, among others, and has performed in extensive collaborations with visual artists Matthew Ritchie and Matthew Barney. She starred in the world premiere of Penelope in 2010.
Continuing the themes of past Opera ATX productions of Soldier Songs and Winter Journey (Winterreise), Penelope is a meditation on memory, identity, and the journey home from war.