Figaro Project presents three new one-act operas

Baltimore's opera scene takes an intriguing turn this weekend when The Figaro Project presents the premieres this weekend of three one-act works by local composers.

"The goal was to give a sampling of contemporary opera, but I didn't want to overwhelm anyone," said Caitlin Vincent, a Peabody Conservatory-trained soprano who founded The Figaro Project in 2009. "I contacted composers I was interested in working with and asked for works under 40 minutes and in English. Each composer wrote his own libretto. All the works are quite tonal."

"Piecing it Apart," billed as a crime drama, is by Paul Mathews, associate dean for academic affairs at Peabody. "The opera is set near Sykesville," said Vincent. "It alternates between an interrogation room and flashbacks to the the last night a guy and his girlfriend were together."

"Lux et Tenebrae" ("Light and Shadows") is by Douglas Buchanan, who is working on his doctorate at Peabody. The plot involves a man telling a story to his granddaughter, who is afraid of the dark, and "an alternate universe," Vincent said. "It could be a children's opera if it were reworked, but we're exploring the adult themes." This piece will be accompanied by piano, violin and cello; the other two operas by piano.

"Strong Like Bull," by another Peabody doctoral student, Joshua Bornfield, adds comedy to the mix. "It's set in Russia before the Bolsheviks took power," Vincent said. "There are a lot of musical jokes and some swearing in Russian, which adds to the fun."

If you go

The trio of operas will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the University of Baltimore's Performing Arts Theater, 21 W. Mount Royal Ave. Admission is free. For more information, call 410-837-4053 or go to

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