1st Workshop Presentation for A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns," The Opera, Music by Sheila Silver, Work in Progress

A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Opera

June 1, 2015 at the National Opera Center
330 7th Ave, New York, NY (just south of  29th on 7th Ave.)

This workshop was funded through the 2015 Opera America Discovery Grant for Female Composers funded by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

To learn more about the opera and to hear excerpts click here.

We gathered 8 remarkable singers plus an ensemble of 6 including two Hindustani instruments native to Afghanistan:  bansuri and tabla.  And actress, Tandy Cronyn was the narrator! Excerpts will be online shortly.  If you would like to hear something now, please contact sheila@sheilasilver.com and she will send you a link for streaming.  (DVD’s are also available). 


It was an intense and fabulous week and our two packed performances indicated that we are off to a great start.  Our cast and instrumentalists, not to mention our director and conductor, were stellar.   Pictures soon.

The Cast and Crew


Randall Scarlata, baritone


RANDALL SCARLATA (Rasheed). Baritone Scarlata’s repertoire spans four centuries and sixteen languages. A sought-after interpreter of new music, he has given world premieres of works by George Crumb, Paul Moravec, Ned Rorem, Lori Laitman, Thea Musgrave, Samuel Adler, Daron Hagen, David Ludwig, Wolfram Wagner, Mohammed Fairouz and Christopher Theofanidis. He has appeared as soloist with great orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, The Minnesota Orchestra, Vienna’s Tonkünstler Orchestra, the Ulster Symphony, The National Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony, and the American Symphony, as well as Early Music ensembles Wiener Akademie and Musica Angelica.


Kendra Broom, mezzo-soprano

Kendra Broom, mezzo-soprano


KENDRA BROOM (Mariam).  Mezzo-soprano Kendra Broom will be completing her Masters of Music at Manhattan School of Music this Spring and will enter the Curtis Institute of Music in the Fall.  This season Ms. Broom makes her debut in Bard SummerScape’s The Wreckers (Jack) with American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein. Other recent credits include Lakme (Mallika under the baton of Thomas Muraco), alto soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the New York Master Chorale and, in New Jersey, Menotti’s Missa O Pulchritudo. Other roles include: Barber’s Hand of Bridge (Sally), Hänsel und Gretel (Hänsel), La rondine (Suzy), Bloch’s Macbeth (Le Fils de Macduff), Haydn’s Orlando Paladino (Alcina), Orphée aux Enfers (Cupidon), Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner (Genevieve), The Mother of Us All (Isabel Wentworth), and Bernard Rands’ Vincent (Marguerite).

Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano

LUCY FITZ GIBBON (Laila). Soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon is a dynamic musician whose repertoire spans the baroque to the present. She has performed at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music and is a continuing Fellow at Tanglewood. She has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the Tulsa Symphony. A graduate of Yale College, Lucy is the recipient of numerous awards for her musical and academic achievements. This Spring she will complete her Master’s Degree at Bard College Conservatory in the Graduate Vocal Arts Program under Dawn Upshaw.

Ian McEuen, tenor

Ian McEuen, tenor


IAN McEUEN (Tariq &Jalil) Tenor McEuen made his professional operatic debut in Fort Worth Opera’s production of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata in 2012, During the company’s 2013 festival, Mr. McEuen performed in Ariadne auf Naxos and La fille du Régiment. and more recently in With Blood, With Ink and Silent Night.  He made his debut at Washington National Opera in The Lion, the Unicorn and Me and appeared for two seasons with the Glimmerglass Festival. In the 2014-2015 season, Ian joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, covering St. Brioche in a new production of The Merry Widow directed by Susan Stroman. Ian began 2015 singing Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte for his debut with Arizona Opera.

Deanne Meek

Deanne Meek, mezzo soprano


DEANNE MEEK (Fariba & Wife). Mezzo-soprano Meek is well known on opera stages throughout the world including Teatro alla Scala, Opera de Lyon, Florentine Opera and the English National Opera. She created the role of Ma Joad in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath for Minnesota Opera and has been on American stages for the Washington National Opera, Tulsa Opera and Dallas Opera among others. She was a Principal artist with the New York City Opera, and on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. Meek is also an active recitalist and has been a fellow at both the Tanglewood and Ravinia Music Festivals in the USA, and has sung in recital in Paris, New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., St. Louis and the Pacific Northwest. In 2013 she performed in the premiere of Sheila Silver’s song cycle, Beauty Intolerable: A Songbook based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Vira Slywotzky, soprano




VIRA SLYWOTZKY (Nana & Market Woman). Soprano Slywotzky has performed principal roles with Seattle Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Sarasota Opera, Light Opera of New York, Boston Midsummer Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, and the New Haven Chamber Orchestra. Her first Herbert role was “Dame Paula” in Sweethearts. Her recital life has led her to Weill Hall and Merkin Hall (NYC), Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris) and the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory (St. Petersburg, Russia). Since 2008 Slywotzky has been the soprano of vocal trio Mirror Visions Ensemble. Slywotzky received an MM from Mannes and a BA from Yale.

Nicholas Masters, bass

Nicholas Masters, bass

Risa Renae Harman, soprano

NICHOLAS MASTERS (Mullah & Driver) Bass Nicholas Master is a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.  Masters was the First Prize and Audience Choice Winner in the 2013 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and a National Grand Finalist in the 2011 Metropolitan National Opera Council Auditions. Performance venues have included the Houston Grand Opera, Caramoor, the English National Opera, Arizona Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

RISA RENAE HARMAN (Wife & Market Woman). American soprano Risa Renae Harman is a versatile singer who navigates a wide range of repertoire. She appeared at Symphony Space in American Opera Projects’ Beauty Intolerable, the world premiere of Sheila Silver’s songs based on poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. She also sang the NY premiere of Silver’s The Wooden Sword, a chamber opera. She has sung with New York City Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland and Glimmerglass Opera. Concert engagements include soloist at the Kennedy Center, Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls, National Cathedral, and solo recitals at the Brooklyn Library and in Sweden as winner of the Jenny Lind Competition. She is the recipient of awards from the Sullivan and Shoshana Foundations, Washington International Competition and Puccini Competition. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University as a student of Ms. Elaine Bonazzi.

tandy-300x300TANDY CRONYN (Narrator) The youngest of the three children of actors Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Tandy Cronyn prepared for her own theatrical career at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. Cronyn’s first Broadway appearance occurred in 1969, when she joined the cast of the long-running musical Cabaret. She then chalked up some impressive stage credits in such classics as Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, Brecht’sGood Woman of Setzuan, Sophocles’ Antigone, as well as contemporary dramas like The Killing of Sister George. Tandy Cronyn’s earliest film appearance was in the obscure agit-prop comedy Praise Marx and Pass the Ammunition (1970); she has since been seen in such productions as All Night Long(1981), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), and the made-for-TV The Story Lady (1991), in which she co-starred with her mother, Jessica Tandy.

Leslie Swackhamer, director

LESLIE SWACKHAMER (director) made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2014 with a production of Madame Butterfly that she has directed at Opera Omaha, Dayton Opera, Hawaii Opera Theater, Atlanta Opera, Madison Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and Vancouver Opera. She has staged works for Seattle Rep, Stages Repertory Theatre, the Empty Space, Florida Studio Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare, The Cherry Lane, American Conservatory Theatre, the Cleveland Play House, American Stage, Cleveland Public, Intiman Theatre, Brave New Works (Atlanta), and the Playwrights Center. On the opera stage, she has also directed for Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Carolina, and Opera in the Heights. Swackhamer has served on the faculties of Rice University, University of Houston, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington, Cornish College for the Arts, and University of Southern California. She is the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a founder of the Women Playwright’s Festival in Seattle, and past president of Theatre Puget Sound.



Sara Jobin, Conductor

SARA JOBIN (conductor)  has served as the Chief Conductor of the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York since 2011, where she premiered and recorded Michael Dellaira’s The Secret Agent in New York, followed by repeat performances at the Armel Festival in Szeged, Hungary and Avignon, France. She has also conducted William Mayer’s masterpiece A Death in the Family in Hungary and France, and Henze’s El Cimarrón in New York.  She has appeared as conductor with Opera Idaho, Albany Pro Musica; Toledo Symphony and Opera Opera Santa Barbara; Pittsburgh Opera; Arizona Opera, Opera Idaho, Anchorage Opera; and the New York Shakespeare Festival. She has also conducted Symphony Silicon Valley, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Bochumer Symphoniker in Germany, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and The Little Orchestra Society in New York.  On disc Ms. Jobin can be heard leading the comic American opera Volpone by John Musto with Wolf Trap Opera, nominated for a Grammy in 2010; and on the Koch label she recorded a premiere by Chris Brubeck on his Convergence CD, sung by the beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  At age 16 Jobin attended Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, where she was a Leonard Bernstein Music Scholar and won the John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship. She studied conducting with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School in Maine. In 2004 she had the honor of making history as the first woman to conduct mainstage subscription performances at San Francisco Opera.


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