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Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document, an Opera-In-Progress



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Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT March 11, 2020

The Center for Fiction

We are excited to partner with The American Opera Project on a fantastic new series, Note/Books, that showcases the transformation of fiction to opera.

Be one of the firsts to hear the stunning collaboration between librettist Kelley Rourke, composer John Glover, and the award-winning author of Eat the Document, Dana Spiotta.

Based on Spiotta’s novel about a fugitive radical from the 1970s who has lived in hiding for twenty-five years, Eat the Document is a story of activism, sacrifice, and the cost of living a secret. Shifting between the protests in the 1970s and the consequences of those choices in the 1990s, this work explores the connection between the two eras — their language, technology, music, and activism.

Directed by Kristin Marting, the libretto reading (with musical excerpts) will feature performances by Justine Aronson, Catherine Brookman, Britt Hewitt, Paul Pinto, Tim Russell and Jonathan Woody, and music direction by Mila Henry. A moderated discussion and Q&A will follow.



  • Dana Spiotta c. Jessica Marx - Carla Cain-Walther

    Dana Spiotta

    Dana Spiotta

    Dana Spiotta is the author of four novels: Innocents and Others (2016), which won the St. Francis College Literary Prize and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Stone Arabia (2011), which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in fiction; Eat the Document (2006), which was a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction and a recipient of the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and Lightning Field (2001). Spiotta was a Guggenheim Fellow, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, and she won the 2008-9 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. In 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded her the John Updike Prize in Literature. Spiotta lives in Syracuse, New York and teaches in the Syracuse University MFA program.

  • Kelley Rourke is a librettist, translator and dramaturg. Original libretti include Lucy, Natural Systems, and Stay (with John Glover); Wilde Tales and And Still We Dream (with Laura Karpman); The Jungle Book (with Kamala Sankaram); and Odyssey and Robin Hood (with Ben Moore). Her English adaptations of standard and not-so-stand operas have been hailed as “crackingly witty” (The Independent, London) and “remarkably well wedded to the music” (New York Times). Kelley’s work has been commissioned and performed by Washington National Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Young People’s Chorus of NYC, Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera, Carnegie Hall, Urban Arias, Met LiveArts, Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, San Francisco Conservatory, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Atlanta Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Nautilus Music-Theater, among others. Kelley has been a guest lecturer at Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and she is librettist mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. She is resident dramaturg for Washington National Opera and The Glimmerglass Festival.

  • John Glover

    John Glover

    John Glover

    Described as “an unabashedly expressive composer,” (New Yorker) John Glover has created music for concert, opera, dance, and theater. He has received commissions from organizations including Houston Grand Opera, On Site Opera, The New York Youth Symphony, Washington National Opera, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Del Sol String Quartet, Amber Sloan Dance, Crossman Dans(c)e, Ensemble Meme, String Noise, and the Five Boroughs Music Festival. His work has been presented in venues ranging from Rockwood Music Hall to Carnegie Hall, the Invisible Dog to the Rothko Chapel. John has received numerous awards, fellowships and grants for his music from organizations including New Music USA, Meet The Composer, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Cambodia Living Arts, Cherry Valley Artworks, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In addition to his work as a composer, he serves as Director of Artistic Planning for Kaufman Music Center, and Artistic Director for the Look and Listen Festival.

  • Kristin Marting is a director of hybrid work based in NYC. Over the last 25 years, she has constructed 28 stage works, including 9 original hybrid works, 5 opera-theatre and music-theatre works, 9 reimaginings of novels and short stories and 5 classic plays. Kristin has directed 19 works at HERE (where she is Founding Artistic Director) and also premiered works at BAM (Opera House), 3LD, Ohio Theatre, and Soho Rep. Her work has toured to 7 Stages, Berkshire Festival, Brown, MCA, New World, Painted Bride, Perishable, UMass, Moscow Art Theatre, London and Oslo. She has directed readings and workshops for Clubbed Thumb, EST, New Georges, Playwrights Horizons, Public Theatre, Target Margin, and others. Selected residencies include Cal Arts, LMCC, Mabou Mines, MASS MOCA, NACL, Orchard Project, Playwrights Center, Smack Mellon, Voice & Vision and Williams. Kristin was recently named a Person of the Decade for outstanding contribution, a Woman to Watch by ArtTable and honored with a BAX10 Award. She also co-founded and co-directs Prototype opera-theatre festival.

In Collaboration with

Fort Greene’s The American Opera Project (AOP) has been at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for over thirty years through its commissioning, developing and producing of opera and music theatre projects; its training programs for students, emerging composers and librettists; and the organization’s community engagement. In 2019, General Director Matt Gray and Artistic Director Mila Henry assumed leadership, changing the organization’s name from American Opera Projects to The American Opera Project, signifying a shift from being a collection of projects towards fostering a new vision for American Opera as a forward-thinking and unending artistic experiment that melds artistic genres and recognizes the operatic story in every life.

  • AOP Logo_Light_01 - Carla Cain-Walther