Music by Stefan Weisman
Libretto by Anna Rabinowitz

About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


American Opera Projects (AOP) explores the outer edges of the operatic form with Darkling, an experimental opera-theatre work with original music by Stefan Weisman based on the poem by Anna Rabinowitz.

Spanning the decades from the 1930’s to the post-World War period, Darkling is a remarkable story – both poignant and humorous – of love, loss, calamity and hope.  Past and present blur, characters are swept along by the great forces of history and lives are bowed and buffeted in this uniquely moving and captivating work. "Brave and sensitive" (The New York Times), Darkling uses opera, avant-garde theatre, vaudeville and cutting edge technology to create “an unlikely collaboration of Wagner, Sally Bowles and Steven Spielberg" (Time Out/New York). This dramatic tour-de-force views history not from a grand geo-political perspective but from the insightful, intimate outlook of a poet whose ordinary Polish-Jewish family is unexpectedly affected by extraordinary events of the Holocaust.

In 2006, American Opera Projects presented the world premiere of Darkling, conceived and directed by Michael Comlish and featuring a newly-commissioned song "The Darkling Thrush" by veteran composer Lee Hoiby.

Darkling was created for four singers (soprano / mezzo / tenor / baritone), seven actors, and string quartet with optional piano. A touring version of Darkling reduces the number of actors to three and is adaptable to multiple venues.

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Stefan Weisman first worked with AOP as a member of its annual Composers & the Voice program. His playful and brooding soundscapes have been described by Anthony Tommasini (The New York Times) as "personal, moody and skillfully wrought." His one act opera Fade was produced by Philadelphia’s Center City Opera Theater at 2008's ConNEXTions. Fade was commissioned by Second Movement and premiered in London in 2008. It also had successful productions in San Francisco and Brooklyn, and will again be heard again in New York City next year. His commissioned work for the Bang on a Can All Stars was mentioned in the New York Times’ retrospective of 2007’s best new music. Upcoming projects include a new chamber work for eighth blackbird, and a multimedia family opera, The Scarlet Ibis, which is being developed by the HERE Arts Center and American Opera Projects. Stefan participated in AOP’s Composers & the Voice during the 2003-04 season.

Anna Rabinowitz is the author of the book-length acrostic poem Darkling: A Poem, (Tupelo Press, 2001), upon which she based her libretto for Darkling. Her fourth volume of poetry, Present Tense, published by Omnidawn, was named one of the best poetry books of 2010 by The Huffington Post. Her previous volume of poetry is The Wanton Sublime: A Florilegium of Whethers and Wonders, published by Tupelo Press, 2006. At present, she is adapting The Wanton Sublime into an AOP-commissioned monodrama featuring music by a Grammy-nominated British composer Tarik O’Regan (Heart of Darkness). She is also collaborating with Francis Schwartz, composer/poly/artist, on an experiential, multi-faceted work, one segment of which will be performed at New College, Sarasota, by instrumentalists, chorus and mezzo-soprano Isabelle Ganz in November, 2013. A translation of the original text into German of Darkling: A Poem was brought out by Luxbooks, Weisbaden, Germany, in spring 2013. Rabinowitz’s books also include At the Site of Inside Out, (University of Massachusetts Press), which won the Juniper Prize. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and ForeWord Magazine’s Best Poetry Book of the Year for Darkling. Rabinowitz is Editor Emerita of American Letters & Commentary, a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of AOP.

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Purchase the 2011 Studio Recording CD of Darkling, produced by Albany Records
Amazon - iTunes - Albany Records

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Opera CD review: DARKLING

Opera CD review: DARKLING

January 24, 2012 - NEW MUSIC BOX
Opera CD review: DARKLING

January 17, 2012 - ENCOREMAG
Opera video profile: DARKLING

January 16, 2012 - THEATERMANIA
Opera CD review: "January's Collectible CDs"

January 9, 2012 - NOUSPIQUE.COM
Opera CD review: DARKLING

December 23, 2011 - PAGE4MUSIC
Opera profile: "Podcast: Stefan Weisman"

Opera profile: "Literature of memory: Anna Rabinowitz on Darkling"

December 1, 2011 - OUR TOWN
Opera profile: "Making Art in the Dark"

Opera CD review: "'Darkling' CD offers intriguing take on the problem of memory"

November 17, 2011 - JEWISH TELEGRAPH UK
Opera profile: "Anna's epic poem inspired by pictures"

November 14, 2011 - TIME OUT NY
Opera CD review: "Album review: Stefan Weisman and Anna Rabinowitz, Darkling"

March 30, 2006 - OPERA TODAY
Opera review: DARKLING

March 30, 2006 - OPERA TODAY
Opera review: DARKLING

March 9, 2006 - TIME OUT NY
Opera review: DARKLING

March 2, 2006 - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Opera review: DARKLING

February 28, 2006 - NY SUN
Opera profile: DARKLING 

February 27, 2006 - NIGHT AFTER NIGHT
Opera review: DARKLING


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November 22, 2011
Darkling CD Release party featuring concert performance of arias
PERFORMANCES BY: Carol Monda, Maeve Hoglund, Hai-Ting Chinn and Mark Uhlemann
Drom, New York, NY

May 27, 2010
Galapagos Art Space
Beth Morrison Projects in association with American Opera Projects presents
Concert performance of arias as part of "21c Arias" series
PERFORMANCES BY: Hai-Ting Chinn and Mark Uhlemann

September 8-12, 2009
The Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, PA
Center City Opera Theater in association with American Opera Projects presents
Touring concert version
PERFORMANCES BY: Maeve Hoglund, Hai-Ting Chinn, Jon Garrison, Martin Hargrove, Jason Switzer, and Sharon Sigal

June 9-11, 2007
Premiere of touring concert version
Max Kade Auditorium, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Aleksander Fredro Theatre, Gniezno, Poland

May 12, 2007
Preview of touring concert version
and other new works presented by On the Edge
New York City Opera's VOX 2007
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University

June 06, 2006
Concert reading of scenes. Post-show panel discussion with creators.
Co-production with Friends of Freie Universität Berlin as part of Jewish Documentary Film, Theater and Speaker Series, German Consulate General, Auditorium, NYC

Feb. 26 - March 18, 2006
East 13th Street Theater
136 East 13th St., New York, NY 10003
ADAPTED and DIRECTED by Michael Comlish
MUSIC DIRECTOR: J. David Jackson
CONDUCTOR: Brian DeMaris
PERFORMANCES BY: Hai-Ting Chinn, Elzbieta Czyzewska, Marcus DeLoach, Jon Garrison, Julie Hart, Julie Lockhart, Carol Monda, Jody Sheinbaum, Micaela Silver, Hillary Spector, Mark Uhlemann, Sid Williams, Perri Yaniv

November 13 & 14, 2005
Workshop concert reading of scenes w/ panel discussion
Works & Process at the Guggenheim series
Peter B. Lewis Theater, Guggenheim Museum, NYC

April 19 & 20, 2005
Workshop concert reading of scenes
The Great Room, 138 South Oxford Space, Brooklyn, NY
Music Direction: Steven Osgood

January-February, 2004
Improvisational development workshops
Director Michael Comlish held performance workshops in Brooklyn and Manhattan to develop Darkling by exploring each section of the original poem. The following performers participated: Elzbieta Czyzewska, Rana Kaye, Peter Kazaras, Dylan McCullough, Carol Monda, and David Tirosh


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American Opera Projects, Inc. • 138 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
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