Opera Profile: ‘Patience and Sarah,’ An Landmark Work for the LGBTQIA+ Community

By David Salazar
(Image Source: Official website)

“Patience and Sarah” is a landmark work for the LGBTQIA+ community.

The opera, which had its world premiere on July 8, 1998 at the Lincoln Center Festival, is widely considered the first lesbian opera and the first mainstream gay-themed opera.

The work, which was created by composer Paula M. Kimper and librettist Wende Persons, was based on a novel of the same name by Isabel Miller. It was originally commissioned by American Opera Projects.

Short Plot Synopsis 

The opera is set in Connecticut in 1816 and follows Patience White, the sister of the middle-class landowner and Sarah, a poor farmer, as they dream of leaving their repressive lives to go pioneering together.

When her family prevents her from leaving with Patience, Sarah escapes and goes out on the road dressed as a boy called Sam. She runs into Parson Daniel Peel, a book peddler who asks Sam to travel with him.

Parsons falls in love with Sam, but Sarah reveals her true self and returns home.

She is then reunited with Patience and the two see each other every day for reading lessons.

However, their love is discovered by Patience’s sister-in-law and Patience is then forced out of her home by her brother. However, as the two women leave, Patience’s brother gives them his blessing and sees them off.

The two head out to start a life together.

Watch and Listen

Here is a recent production of the work.

 And here are some excerpts.


Opera Wiki