Four New Short-Form Operas Retell the Stonewall Uprising This Spring

Mini-operas inspired by the Stonewall Uprising will debut at the iconic venue next month.

The operas were created by NYU theater alums to be performed as part of the annual New York Opera Fest. In all, some 30 companies will present more than 35 events throughout NYC in May and June.


This year’s opera writing lab is assembling four miniature Stonewall operas based on the 1969 uprising that launched the gay rights movement. The operas are mounted in partnership with the Stonewall Inn — the site of the riots. They will also be part of the citywide celebrations commemorating Stonewall’s 50th anniversary.

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The musical theatre writing program is part of the Advanced Opera Lab. Heading the program are Randall Eng, Associate Arts Professor of GMTW and Sam Helfrich, Associate Arts Professor of Design.

This project unites NYU Tisch’s musical theatre writing program with the design department and American Opera Projects. Under their auspices, students write, compose, develop and design original operas performed by professional opera singers. The Opera Lab was started in 2015 and is open to students and alumni.

The operas are also choreographed by students from the Dance Department, directed by students from the New School and performed by professional opera singers from American Opera Projects.


Some of the new works depict the nights of the uprising, while others focus on its resonance over the decades. Their focus range from Stonewall’s impact on contemporary Ukrainian politics and a post-apocalyptic 2418.

Included are: Nightlife, music by TJ Rubin; libretto by Deepali Gupta; The Community, music by Kevin Cummines; libretto by Shoshana Greenberg, The Pomada Inn,
music by Brian Cavanagh-Strong; libretto by Ben Bonnema and Outside, music by Bryan Blaskie; libretto by Seth Christenfeld.

The operas will be staged May 19 at 7:30 pm and May 20 at 8pm at the Stonewall Inn.

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Overall, the New York Opera Fest showcases the breadth and diversity of opera in New York City, through events ranging from world premieres to complete reimagining of opera greats, with productions in theaters, bars, playgrounds and more.

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The Rich Legacy of the Stonewall Inn

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