Opera Philadelphia

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Curtis Opera Theatre: Riders to the Sea & Empty the House

Curtis Opera Theatre at the Perelman unites two powerful works into a single production that explores the stories of families in crisis. 

In Riders to the Sea by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a grief-stricken widow laments the loss of her many sons to the sea, as it threatens to claim the life of her only remaining son.

It’s a poignant prelude to Empty the House, a 2016 opera composed by Curtis Institute of Music alum and Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Rene Orth, whose work “breaks new ground” (Opera News), and featuring a libretto by Mark Campbell (Elizabeth CreeSilent Night). In Empty the House, a daughter returns to her childhood home for a weekend with her mother and is confronted by painful memories.

Both works—premiered nearly 80 years apart—explore the complicated relationships between mothers and children, brothers and sisters, the loved and the lost.