NYU Tisch, The Stonewall Inn, and American Opera Projects to present live performances of new, original operas inspired by the Stonewall Riots


Four half-hour long mini-operas inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a watershed moment in LGBTQ civil rights, will have their world premiere at NYU’s Shubert Theatre on May 18, 2019 and within the modern-day Stonewall Inn itself on May 19 and 20.  The mini-opera performances are part of NYU’s Stonewall at 50 Series, a collection of panels, performances, events, and discussions commemorating the riots and their legacy.   

Some of the works are set on the night of the Stonewall uprising; others focus on Stonewall’s impact on societies as disparate as contemporary Ukraine and a post-apocalyptic 2418. The mini-operas are the fourth entry in the collaboration between Brooklyn contemporary opera producer American Opera Projects and the NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program’s “Advanced Opera Lab” in which emerging opera writers compose works based on a historic New York City location.

Tickets for the May 19, 7 p.m.  and May 20, 8 p.m. performances at The Stonewall Inn, located at 53 Christopher Street, are $35, plus a two-drink minimum, and are available to guests 21 years of age and older. Tickets and more information are available at AOP’s website, www.aopopera.org/events. Tickets to the May 18 performances, held at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at NYU Tisch’s  Shubert Theater located at 721 Broadway, are free with reservation, but are only open to students and faculty of NYU.

The operas will be performed by professional opera singers Errin Duane Brooks, Brandon Coleman, Sara Couden, Amy Justman, Kathryn Krasovec, Jordan Rutter, Hans Tashjian, and Clayton Williams, each of whom helped the creators develop the operas over the past four months along with music directors Kelly Horsted, Daniel Schlosberg, and Jillian Zack. Horsted and Zack will provide piano accompaniment at the performances.


The four 30-minute operas were written and composed by alums of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, as part of the Advanced Opera Lab led by GMTWP professor Randall Eng with Design Dept. professor Sam Helfrich. The operas are designed by Tisch students from the Design Department and choreographed by students from the Dance Department, directed by students from The New School's College of Performing Arts, and performed by the professional opera singers from American Opera Projects.

The Stonewall Riots took place in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

The Opera Lab was started in 2015 by Eng and Helfrich, and is open to both students and alumni. In previous years, the program’s mini-operas were created on the subjects of Brooklyn’s historic Fort Greene Park, Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist artwork “The Dinner Party” that is on permanent display at The Brooklyn Museum, and New York City’s International House, which houses and supports international students and entrepreneurs from around the world.

“The Stonewall Riots provide a powerful inspiration for our students in the Opera Lab—both the drama of the moment itself, as well as the extraordinary reverberations that continue to be felt in its wake,” said Eng. “The Stonewall Operas are fantastic examples of the power and versatility of contemporary opera; by looking at this single historic event 50 years in the past, the composers and librettists are wrestling with issues, characters, and situations that speak deeply to them as artists living in the world today. These 30-minute operas imagine what it was like to be at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969; how the legacy of Stonewall impacts people fighting for their rights today; and what it could lead to in the distant future. And to present these works at the Stonewall Inn itself—the air is going to be electric.”

The Stonewall Operas are part of NYU’s Stonewall at 50 programming, a series of events including panel discussions, performances, exhibitions, and films examining the Stonewall Riots and their impact on NYU, Greenwich Village, and society at large. For more information, visit NYU Stonewall at 50.


Nightlife - Music by TJ Rubin; Libretto by Deepali Gupta
Directed by Nina Fry

On June 28, 1969, a jazz quartet finish a gig at the Village Vanguard and embark on an odyssey around the corner to arrive at Stonewall Inn. In a sonic landscape awash with Lynchian blue notes and surreal motives, four musicians strive for self-acceptance among the dissonance.

The Pomada Inn - Music by Brian Cavanagh-Strong; Libretto by Ben Bonnema
Directed by Sam Helfrich

In Kiev, Igor wants to go to the bathhouse but Alek fears a police raid; in New York, Holly and Tara don't have to worry about such things. The Pomada Inn throws these modern-day couples together across time and space to explore the global legacy of Stonewall and the work that still needs to be done.

The Community - Music by Kevin Cummines; Libretto by Shoshana Greenberg
Directed by I-Chen Wang

It's 400 years in the future, and humanity has rebuilt itself after an apocalyptic event that sent the survivors into another dark age. The only artifact they have from the previous civilization is a book on the history of the Stonewall Uprising. A madcap dystopian comedy that asks, what happens when a society is built on the story of Stonewall and what happens when someone wants to deviate from the norms?

Outside - Music by Bryan Blaskie; Libretto by Seth Christenfeld
Directed by Francisco Rodriguez

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, in another bar somewhere else in the Village, a young man struggles with a pair of intertwined decisions: how to live as his authentic self and whether or not to go outside and join a revolution that has been drawing ever closer.

Performances by:
Errin Duane Brooks, Brandon Coleman, Sara Couden, Amy Justman, Kathryn Krasovec, Jordan Rutter, Hans Tashjian, Clayton Williams

Music Direction
Kelly Horsted and Jillian Zack

Set Designers
Marisa Kaugars, Lina Younes, Mamoon Tebbo, Aoshuang Zhang

Costume Designers
Stine Bauger Dahlman, Heather Freedman, Rebecca S. Kanach

Lighting Designers
Chris D'Angelo, Tyler Dubuc, Hamilton Guillén

The Stonewall Operas is a collaborative project of NYU Tisch School of the Arts' Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, Department of Design for Stage and Film, and Department of Dance;  The New School's College of Performing Arts;  American Opera Projects and the Stonewall Inn; co-sponsored by the NYU Grey Art Gallery. AOP's training programs are supported in part through a multi-year grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and OPERA America’s Innovation Grant funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

About the NYU Tisch School of the Arts
For over 50 years, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for the individual artist and scholar of the arts. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and 11 academic centers around the world. Learn more at www.tisch.nyu.edu.

About American Opera Projects
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, American Opera Projects (AOP) is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement through its commissioning, developing, and producing of opera and music theatre projects, community engagement, and training programs for student and emerging composers and librettists including partnerships with NYU Tisch and Hunter College and its in-house, two-year fellowship program


Press Contact

Shonna Keogan
Shonna Keogan
(212) 998-6796