Heart of a Dog

Based on the novella by Mikhail Bulgakov
Music & Libretto by Rudolf Rojahn
Directed by Sally Stunkel

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

“Enterprising and unmistakably alternative” THE BOSTON GLOBE

“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” BOSTON LOWBROW

New Production directed by Copeland Woodruff

  1. The Boston Conservatory (Sept. 2010)
  2. University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music (Feb. 2011)
  3. OPERA America Conference, Boston, MA (May 2011)
  4. Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Cambridge NY (Sept. 2012)


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.

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.