Author Archives: WhitmanAdmin

The Royal Singer: Scene III

Archival Recording, performed by students in the Music and Dance Department at Swarthmore College, May 2015.

The Royal Singer centers on a singing contest.  After the old Royal Singer falls into a vat of honey, the Royal Messenger announces a contest to find a new singer. Professor Song – who in youth was passed over for the position – hopes that her child, Bo, will win this contest. But Bo doesn’t take the competition seriously, and also doesn’t sing very well.

In this scene, Professor Song brings Bo together with the students from her singing school – Ray, Mi, Cha, Kai, and Woo – for voice lessons. But instead of learning from her, all they do is fight about who will win the prize.

Isabella’s Diary (work in progress)

A new chamber opera, based on an infamous 19th century scandal.  Englishwoman Isabella Robinson wrote diary entries detailing an extramarital affair.  After her abusive husband stole and published her diary, she fought valiantly against a legal system that regarded her as property. A story of marital deceit and violated privacy that resonates powerfully in the era of non-consensual sexting and #MeToo. 

Duration: approximately 1 hour

Principal Characters: (voice parts not yet assigned)

Isabella Robinson

Henry Robinson

Dr. Edward Lane

Chorus: 4 singers

Orchestra: 8-10 musicians

Expected date of completion: summer 2025

Wedding Quartet

Wedding Quartet from A Scandal in Bohemia

Setting: 1880’s London

Sherlock Holmes has been in pursuit of the operatic soprano Irene Adler, whom he believes to be a blackmailer.  Disguised as an idle horse groom, he follows her into a church, where he discovers she is about to be married to her lawyer, Godfrey Norton.  He is unexpectedly pressed into service as a witness.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, Adler presents him with a gold sovereign.

Minister: the late Julian Rodescu

Norton: David Kravitz

Adler: Laura Heimes

Holmes: Markus Beam

Orchestra 2001; James Freeman, conductor 

Archival recording from a 2009 Concert performance

Cassandra Final Scene from Act I

Cassandra Act I: FInal Scene The Trojan seeress Cassandra, having refused the sexual advances of the god Apollo, was cursed to know the future but unable to persuade anyone to believe her prophecies.  Prior to this scene, she predicted that Troy will lose its imminent battle against the Greek forces.  But the community ignored her, preferring to believe a sanitized version of the prophecy delivered by Cassandra’s brother Helenus, who conveniently omitted the negative outcome. 

In the first portion of this scene, Cassandra and Helenus watch as Queen Hecuba leads Brie, Chris, and other Trojan citizens onto the stage in a ceremonial processional to implore the gods for victory.   The second portion is a quintet in which the principal characters offer differing perspectives.

Archival recording from the 2019 production by students in the Department of Music and Dance, Swarthmore College. 

The Royal Singer

  • The Royal Singer, a Participatory Opera for Children, 2015. Libretto by Nathalie Anderson, after a scenario by Stephen Russell.Professor Song – eager for her child Bo to be chosen as the new Royal Singer – coaches five flawed singer-contestants, hoping to encourage Bo to enter the competition.  Instead, Bo discovers the pleasure of being part of a chorus of friends.  The penultimate scene is to be created and performed by a group of local children, in partnership with the adults. Audio of Scene 7: Finale.

Sukey in the Dark

  • Sukey in the Dark: chamber opera in one act, 2001; revised 2016. Libretto by Nathalie Anderson. 
    • Audio clip: Aria from Sukey in the DarkA contemporary re-envisioning of the Cupid and Psyche myth. Sukey – stuck in a dead-end job – finds herself in an unconventional relationship with a lover who never shows his face. What does it mean to go against social expectations? This one-act comedy makes a case for relationships that baffle outsiders, in a merging of dark and light. In this aria, Sukey sings to Eros that she yearns for their marriage to emerge from darkness.  Audio from the Peabody Chamber Opera production with soprano Madeline Huss in the title role.

A Scandal in Bohemia

  • A Scandal in Bohemia: chamber opera in two acts, after a story by A. Conan Doyle, 2008. Libretto by Nathalie Anderson.
      • Wedding Quartet Setting: London, 1880’s.  After discretely following the singer Irene Adler through the streets of London, Sherlock Holmes is unexpectedly pressed into service as a witness as she is married to her lawyer, Godfrey Norton. Minister: the late Julian Rodescu; Norton: David Kravitz;  Adler: Laura Heimes; Holmes: Markus Beam; James Freeman, conductor, with Orchestra 2001. Archival recording from a 2009 Concert performance


Cassandra: chamber opera in two acts, 2019. Libretto by Nathalie Anderson.

  • Audio clip: Aria from Cassandra: Setting: aboard a Greek ship during the Trojan wars. Cassandra, a prophet from Troy, is a captive on a ship commanded by the Greek warrior Agamemnon. She mourns for the lost Troy of her childhood, a city that no one will ever see again. (Archival recording:  Cassandra: Shelby Billups; Music Director: Shira Samuels-Shragg.  Orchestra: students in the Department of Music and Dance, Swarthmore College.)
  • Click here for video and synopsis of the complete opera