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Spotlight Feature - Steven Serpa and Zac Kline

It's officially our favorite month of the year! We hope you've purchased your tickets and are as excited as we are for our 11th annual New in November festival on Sunday, November 14 at Christ Church Cathedral. If you haven't purchased your TICKETS, there's still time. Visit our website today to buy your tickets for the HOTTEST new opera event of the season. Today we're thrilled to introduce our final composer/librettist duo behind our fourth featured opera: these wings are meant to fly. We are delighted to welcome back composer, Steven Serpa (Thyrsis and Amaranth, New in November 2) and introduce you to librettist Zac Kline. To see a preview of their opera, visit our Youtube Channel to see HOT's sneak peek featuring countertenor, Benjamin Rauch and pianist Michelle Horsley. We hope you enjoy learning about Steven, Zac, and what Opera for the 22nd Century means to them.


Steven Serpa is an award-winning composer of opera, choral, symphonic, and chamber music. His An Invocation was premiered by the Austin Symphony Orchestra and has since been taken up by ensembles such as the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, the TreeFalls new music, and the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. Critics praised his one-act opera Thyrsis and Amaranth as a “truly beautiful… magnificent little story jammed full of thought and feeling and meaning” with “gorgeous music and wrenching lyrics.” It was premiered by Hartford Opera Theater and has had over a dozen productions throughout the US and Canada.

Steven has recently collaborated on solo vocal works with singers from Austin Opera. These include a song cycle with Mexican poet Cecilia Castillo Canciónes de desamor, another on the poetry of Jeffery Beam called The Creatures: A Bestiary Retold, and a marriage-rights cantata based on the writing of Mildred Loving titled And Loving for All. Recent commissions include works for the Pale Blue Dot, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, and the Sterling Trio. His new oratorio james (book of ruth) tackles the subject of HIV Stigma and was recently premiered by Inversion Ensemble in Austin, TX. His new one-act opera these wings are meant to fly responding to the Pulse nightclub shooting was premiered by Thompson Street Opera in Chicago and productions will be mounted in Montréal, Hartford, and Austin next season. Steven has studied with composers Tom Cipullo, Dan Welcher, and

Yevgeniy Sharlat, recently earning his doctorate in composition from the University of Texas at Austin. He makes his home in Austin, TX and works as co-director of Fast Forward Austin, producing inventive, forward-looking music experiences for local audiences and communities.

To learn more about Steven, visit his website:

Photo by Ross Ryelle Photography

Here is what Steven wants HOTOpera fans to know about these wings are meant to fly :

these wings are meant to fly is the second work I've written to a libretto by Zac Kline, but it is the first thing I read by him. Zac and I came together to write a work on HIV and stigma which would become our oratorio james (book of ruth). His short play responding to the Pulse nightclub shooting was a writing sample he sent me and would ultimately become this short opera. I connected immediately to the way Zac's character in these wings deals with the loss and grief they are experiencing. As a queer person, I found a sort of sanctuary in gay clubs and queer nightlife, an accepting place that was the opposite of my conservative religious upbringing. The mass shooting at Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016 shook me deeply. It felt like an attack on a space that has represented safety to me.

Here is what Steven had to say about Opera for the 22nd Century:

We are barely 20 years into the 21st century; it's difficult to imagine where opera will go in the next 80 to 100 years. Opera can be the ideal genre for making grand public declarations or sincere convictions of justice and faith, but also for sharing deeply personal pain or intimate feelings. What draws me to opera is its range of expression, and I hope opera in the next century can explore that range even further than I can imagine possible.


Zac Kline is a playwright, librettist and poet based in New York. His work has been produced in London, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas among other places. He wrote the libretto for the full-length oratorio james (book of ruth) with music by Steven Serpa, which was recently recorded by Invesion Ensemble. His work has been staged in traditional auditoriums, an Island in the Hudson River, an apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side and a 100-year old squash court. He is a contributing author and lead producer of After Orlando: an international theatre action, a collection of plays in response to the shooting at Pulse Nightclub that were read across

the United States.

To learn more about Zac, visit his website.

Here is what Zac wants HOTOpera fans to know about these wings are meant to fly :

These wings are meant to fly began as a text for a project I co-produced along with Blair Baker and Caridad Svich After Orlando: an international theatre action in response to the shooting at Pulse Nightclub. The project and my play were shared in evenings across the United States and in London. Steven, who I had previously worked with on a full-length oratoria, generously asked if he could adapt and set my text to music. I am touched to have my words which hope in some way grapple with the grief that comes out of both a personal and seismic loss, an attack on individual lives and on the LGTBQ and Latinx communities, have a new dynamic life with Steven's music. Steven has elevated what began as my personal attempt to understand what happened as Pulse and brought it to the higher plane where opera exists. Art comes from our inability and ability to understand what unfolds around us, and music perhaps more than words helps make that chaos into beauty and sense. My thanks to Steven, Elizabeth, the wonderful creative teams of wings and everyone at Hartford Opera Theatre for this terrific evening devoted to new work. More new work. More opera. More life.

What Rich had to say about Opera for the 22nd Century:

Opera is a reckoning.


Thank you for tuning in to our Spotlight series featuring Steven Serpa, Zac Kline and their opera: these wings are meant to fly. Follow our social media pages this week to continue to get to know this composer/librettist dream team.

We begin rehearsals for NIN11 later this week. Be sure to purchase your TICKETS for our 11th annual New in November festival before the HOTTEST new opera event in Hartford passes you by.


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