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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

Dark Sisters (2011),
Gotham Chamber Opera and Opera of Philadelphia
Work Notes
Opera in 2 acts
Text Writer
Stephen Karam
St. Rose Music Publishing
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
1 Hour 30 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
5 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, bass
Programme Note
Nico Muhly Dark Sisters (2011),
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Acrobat format

   ELIZA (30s): Lyric Soprano
   ZINA (First Wife, 40s): Lyric Soprano
   RUTH (Second Wife, 40s): Mezzo-Soprano
   PRESENDIA (Third Wife, 30s): Soprano
   ALMERA (Fourth Wife, 30s): Soprano
   LUCINDA (Eliza’s Daughter, 20s): Soprano
   PROPHET/KING (40s-50s): Bass


DARK SISTERS follows one woman’s dangerous attempt to escape her life as a member of the FLDS Church (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints), a sect that split from mainstream Mormonism in the early 20th Century largely because of the LDS Church’s renunciation of polygamy. The male founders of the Mormon faith (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, chief among them) loom large in American history; Dark Sisters puts the women front and center.

The narrative draws inspiration from the flurry of media attention surrounding the two most infamous raids on FLDS compounds (the 1953 raid at Short Creek, AZ and the 2008 raid at the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, TX) as well as the stories of the over 80 wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Set against a red-earthed landscape filled with revelations, dark prophets and white temples stretching towards heaven, Dark Sisters charts one woman’s quest for self-discovery in a world where personal identity is forbidden.

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  • 09 FEB 2017
    Boston, MA
    Boston Conservatory of Music

    Other Dates:
    10-12 February - Boston, MA
  • 21 OCT 2016
    Park Ridge, IL, United States
    Third Eye Theatre Ensemble

    Other Dates:
    22,23,28-30 October; 4-6 November - Park Ridge, IL, United States
  • 26 NOV 2015
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Vancouver Opera

    Other Dates:
    27,28 November; 3-6,10-12 December - Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • 25 JAN 2014
    Resident Artists
    CAPA Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
    Pittsburgh Opera

    Other Dates:
    28,31 January; 2 February - CAPA Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 11 OCT 2013
    Boston, MA
    Boston University School for Arts

    Other Dates:
    12,13 October - Boston, MA
  • 08 JUN 2012
    Philadelphia, USA
    Opera Company of Philadelphia
    Eliza, Caitlin Lynch / Ruth, Eve Gigliotti / Almera, Jennifer Check / Presendi, Margaret Lattimore / Zin, Jennifer Zetlan / Prophet, Kevin Burdette / Lucinda, Kristina Bachrach; Neal Goren, conductor

    Other Dates:
    10,13,15,17 June - Philadelphia, USA
  • 09 NOV 2011
    Dark Sisters World Premiere
    Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, New York, NY
    Gotham Chamber Opera
    Neal Goren, conductor

    Other Dates:
    15,17,19 November - Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, New York, NY

On November 9…Gotham Chamber Opera introduced Muhly’s…Dark Sisters…Muhly does write neat old-fashioned set pieces. He does create grateful cantilenas for his assembled sopranos. He does provide smart orchestrations, some unabashedly spicy and some artificially sweetened. He does toy knowingly with impressionistic shimmer here, minimalist muttering there.
Martin Bernheimer, Opera,01/01/2012
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