Heart of a Dog

“Enterprising and unmistakably alternative”

“A prime and rare example of opera properly compounded with theater.”

“Heart of a Dog is smart, quirky contemporary opera with a lot of talent, creativity, and professionalism behind it”

“Visually, the opera is stunning… creative use of costuming… superb puppetry!”

Premiere: September 21, 2007
Location: The Zack Box at The Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)

New Production: September 16, 2010
Location: The Zack Box at The Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)

Other Performances: Hubbard Hall, Cambridge NY in collaboration with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (Sept. 2012)
OPERA America Conference, Boston, MA (May 2011)
University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music (Feb. 2011)

Based on the novella by Mikhail Bulgakov
Music & Libretto by Rudolf Rojahn
Directed by Copeland Woodruff

Listen to the alluring banter of a belligerent carnival barker as he navigates you through a twisted carnival sideshow where the main attraction is a unique performance by a bizarre troupe of actors. Utilizing an arsenal of bunraku puppets the troupe tells a dark tale of a scientist’s overly successful experiment of implanting human glands into the body of a stray dog. But the grandeur of the scientific achievement is overshadowed by the misery of living with the half-dog/half-woman whose varied appetites and manipulations prove disastrous for all.

ADVISORY: Contains adult content and use of strobe lights. Wear comfortable footwear as audience members will be walking during the performances – regular chairs will not be available.

RudyRojahn-WebsiteI’d long been a fan of Bulgakov’s fiction so when I began thinking about writing a short opera in 2007 Heart of a Dog seemed like it could be a perfect fit. Everything from the surreal nature of the drama to the small cast of characters to the self-contained environment seemed custom tailored, not just to my compositional aesthetic, but also to the limited resources with which the production would be put on.

The piece came out in a creative rage of less than two months and when I listen to it now, three years later, I can hear the raw and crunchy sonoric exuberance of a younger version of myself. I wanted to tear down the performance space with massive walls of sound while four tragic puppets acted out their black comedy.

Sean George/Christopher Webb (alt), actor (Carnival Barker)
Brian Church, baritone (Doctor)
Aliana de la Guardia, soprano (Dog/Police)
Patrick Massey, tenor (Assistant)
Jan Zimmerman, soprano (Housekeeper)
Kent O’Doherty, saxophone (Suitor)
Gabriela Diaz/Brenda van der Merwe (alt), viola
Javier Caballero, cello
Mike Williams, percussion

Copeland Woodruff, Director
Julia Noulin-Mérat, Scenic Designer
Tlaloc Lopez-Watermann, Lighting Designer
Neil Fortin, Costume Designer - (Original costume design by Adrienne Carlile)
Sean Cote, Puppet Designer
Adrienne Boris, Assistant Director
Caryn M. Boehm, Production & Stage Manager
Mark DiGiovanni, Technical Director
Michael Sakir, Vocal Coach

Peter Weathers, baritone (Doctor)
Aliana de la Guardia, soprano (Dog)
Neil Ferreira, tenor (Assistant)
Leslie Ann Leytham, mezz-soprano (Housekeeper)
Kent O’Doherty, saxophone (Suitor)
Beth Holub, viola
Eliza Jacques, cello
Mike Williams, percussion
Sally Stunkel, Stage Director