Barn Opera Announces October Surprise: The World Premiere of Jarrar-Goodwin’s ‘Patience & Pearl’

By Chris Ruel

Frequent collaborators, composer Felix Jarrar and librettist Bea Goodwin, continue their string of operatic works with “Patience and Pearl,” a micro-opera relating the story of Pearl Curran, a historical 20th-century medium with the ability to channel the words and poetry of the supposed spirit of Patience Worth.

The filmed performance, scheduled for October 31 at 8:00 p.m. ET, is a Vermont-based Barn Opera production and part of the company’s 2020 project, The Social Distance Opera, which, according to the project’s website, “presents opera on a global scale, while maintaining distance in the COVID-19 era.”

The micro-opera will stream on The Social Distance Opera YouTube channel and Instagram @socialdistanceopera. The screening includes a cast/creative team talk.

Based loosely on the story of Pearl Curran and the ghost of Patience Worth, who dictates her work to the medium, Goodwin reimagines Pearl as a blogger in need of supernatural help to succeed at her job. Appropriately timed and themed for Halloween night, the ghost story is less about scares and more about telling the rich story of two women amplifying the other’s voice; something out of reach for both writers while when working independently. Goodwin co-directed the production, with the artists self-filming in one New England location where they lived and quarantined together. The making of the film followed all state, local, and CDC guidelines for working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jarrar scored “Pearl and Patience” for two sopranos. Brianna Meese sings the role of Patience. Meese last appeared as Adele in MassOpera’s “Die Fledermaus.” Jennifer Soloway plays Pearl. Soloway specializes in contemporary opera, while also enjoying many roles in standard repertoire productions. Both Meese and Soloway are graduates of The Boston Conservatory. Jarrar’s music also calls for a solo violinist. Adam von Housen, winner of the 2013 American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, adds his artistry to the production.

Composer/pianist, graduate of Marlboro College, and former Vermonter, Felix Jarrrar’s list of accomplishments includes performances at diverse venues such as Symphony Space, (le) poisson rouge, BAM’s Fisher Hillman Studio and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. His works have been performed internationally by artists from the Metropolitan Opera, the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, and the duo Unassisted Fold. At the forefront of Jarrar’s compositional output are his works for voice. Amongst his approximately 117 works, he has written over 100 art songs, eight operas, two string quartets, and a cantata.

Librettist/Stage Director, Bea Goodwin has had her works staged at La Mama, BAM, (le) poisson rouge & site-specific nooks & crannies across NYC. She has penned several adaptations and original works that have been performed all over the country. Projects with Jarrar include their award-winning song cycle “Songs of the Soul Beams,” premiered at BAM and later presented at (le) Poisson Rouge, an operatic adaptation of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” their immersive jazz opera “Tabula Rasa (the story of Kiki de Montparnasse),” which played to four sold-out performances at the Blue Building as part of the 2018 New York Opera Fest, and HindSight, a true-crime opera that is currently being developed by No Dominion Theatre Company. Goodwin divides her time between Los Angeles and New York.