Glow Lyric Theatre is set to present “The Handmaid’s Tale” on July 28, 2023.
The production by the South Carolina-based company will be part of the organization’s 2023 Festival season, which kicks off on July 21, 2023 and runs through August 6, 2023.
The opera, which is based on Margaret Atwood’s famed novel and features a libretto by Paul Bentley and music by Poul Ruders, will be conducted by Bryon Black and stars Katherine Fill as Offred, Ashley Becker as Aunt Lydia, Wil Kellerman as The Commander, and Diane Schoff as Serena Joy. Jenna Elser will direct.
“One of the most haunting things about this opera is the fact that many of the fictional events the author wrote about happening before Gilead was established have actually already happened here in our country: uncontrollable wildfires and environmental destruction, banning of books and abortion rights,” Elser told OperaWire. “For many people who are female identifying, much of the repression and misogyny in the story are moments that are familiar in our everyday lives- so are we really that far off from the possibility of this dystopian future? The book, and now this operatic adaptation, serve as a warning for what could happen if we remain apathetic to equality for all. Will we listen?”
“If my opera (hand in hand with Atwood’s story) can help making more people (and not only men, I’m afraid) realize, that a woman’s body is her own, nobody else’s, and that the general oppression of women, anywhere, is a crime, then I’d be happy and proud,” Rouder added. “But the ugly double-whammy of religion and misogyny is a dragon not easily slain. Even here, in decent, prosperous, secular Denmark, there’s the occasional ominous rumbling from certain quarters. But in South Carolina, and all the other red states, in such a (still) powerful nation, that’s beyond worrying. The most chilling lines from the story is Aunt Lydia’s ‘…this is not a prison, but a privilege’….and ‘…there’s freedom to, and freedom from.’”
Rouder’s opera premiered in 2000 in Copenhagen at the Royal Danish Opera and has since been presented at the English National Opera, Minnesota Opera, Gertrude Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others; in 2022, both the ENO and the Royal Danish Opera presented new productions of the opera.
Per an official press statement by the company, “The haunting and unusual score plunges the audience deep into the world of Gilead, featuring traditional opera influenced by minimalism, medieval chant, and gospel.”
In its review, The New York Times stated “Add ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to the list of recent works that the Metropolitan Opera should feel obliged to present.”
Glow Lyric Theatre will also present “Cabaret” and “Black Broadway” as part of its 2023 season.