THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Music by Poul Ruders
Libretto by Paul Bentley
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood
Sung in English with English surtitles
Performance time is approximately 3 hours, with one intermission.
TALKBACKS will be held immediately following the performances on May 8, May 10, and May 12.
SUN 5 | 3:00 PM
WED 8 | 7:30 PM
FRI 10 | 7:30 PM
SUN 12 | 3:00 PM
Please note due to the nature of this production, any patrons who arrive after the start of the show may not be able to access their ticketed seats and any patrons who get up during the performance will not be able to return to their original seat until after the intermission. Alternative seating will be provided.
MIND-BLOWING PRODUCTION | STUNNING CONTEMPORARY SCORE | TIMELY CAUTIONARY TALE
Bear witness to the story of Offred: one woman of many stripped of her name, identity, and personhood by a cruel and oppressive government regime. Offred desperately preserves her story, a simple act of defiance and resistance as dangerous as it is riveting. Margaret Atwood’s extraordinary, important novel—set in Boston and Cambridge—becomes one of BLO’s largest-ever productions, directed by theater icon Anne Bogart with a hypnotic, evocative score that bends the tenets of traditional opera and leaves audiences breathless.
First performances of a new edition by composer Poul Ruders, commissioned by Boston Lyric Opera
The Handmaid’s Tale contains scenes of violence, misogyny, and sexual assault. In order to help you best prepare for the opera, please note that this synopsis contains plot details and events.
2021 AD. After multiple disasters cause environmental ruin and widespread infertility, the United States has been taken over by an extremist Christian sect and reborn as the Republic of Gilead, where women have been returned to their “rightful” place in society.
They are prohibited from holding property or working and are divided into a strict class system: Aunts are in charge of re- education and the enforcement of social codes, Marthas work as cooks and housekeepers, Wives are the property of elite men, and Handmaids are women designated to bear the children of the leaders of Gilead.
THIS PRODUCTION WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE
SPONSORSHIP OF THE HANDMAID’S CIRCLE. WE RECOGNIZE
AND THANK THEM FOR THEIR GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THIS LANDMARK PRODUCTION.
We additionally thank the following sponsors:
Linda Cabot Black, with special support for David Angus, conductor
Sandra A. Urie & Frank F. Herron, with special support for Anne Bogart, stage director
Willa & Taylor Bodman, with special support for James Schuette, set & costume designer,
and Brian Scott, lighting designer
Susan & Dennis Shapiro, with special support for the Boston Lyric Opera Chorus
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA ORCHESTRA ANNIE RABBAT Concertmaster
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA CHORUS BRETT HODGDON‡ Chorus Master
REHEARSAL COACH/ACCOMPANIST NATHAN SALAZAR†
ASSISTANT STAGE DIRECTOR MIKHAELA MAHONY*
STAGE MANAGER CYNTHIA HENNON MARINO
OFFRED & LUKE’S DAUGHTER
SAMANTA WILLISTON* (MAY 5 & 10)
BEATRICE EDDY* (MAY 8 & 12)
HANDMAIDS, AUNTS, GUARDS, ETC.
JESSICA JOHNSON BROCK†
Sponsored by Mr. Edward J. Leary
BRIANNA J. ROBINSON†
*Boston Lyric Opera Debut
†Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist
‡Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist Alumnus
Harvard University Ray Lavietes Pavilion
45 North Harvard Street, Boston
The Handmaid’s Tale will be staged in a gymnasium that recalls the infamous Red Center from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel
Harvard’s refurbished and rededicated arena for men’s and women’s basketball – The Ray ’36 and Estelle Lavietes Pavilion, formerly called the Briggs Athletic Center – stands among the most historic venues in the sport. The facility underwent multiphase renovation in recent years, completing its transformation prior to the 2017-18 season.
Learn more about how we’ve redesigned spaces to create immersive productions
BLO Blog: Transforming Spaces for Opera
The Lavietes Pavilion can accommodate both wheelchair and companion seating. Restrooms are located on the main level. Assisted listening devices are available at the box office.
Please note there will not be a coat check of any kind for this production.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Concessions will be served at all performances, including sandwiches & wraps, light bites, and desserts. Beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages will also be available for purchase.
This is not a Harvard University event and is not controlled, presented, or supervised by Harvard University or any of its schools or programs.
Community Partnerships: Spring 2019
1 in 3 women. 1 in 6 men.1
Sexual violence is all too pervasive throughout the United States.
Those statistics are even more striking here in Massachusetts, our home, where nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lives.2
Sexual violence affects people of all genders, races, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations.
And we need to talk about it.
The Handmaid’s Tale, an operatic adaptation by Poul Ruders of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, invokes a dark fictional near-future, set in a fundamentalist theocracy. We see the story through the narrative of one Handmaid of Gilead, a woman stripped of her name and her rights, forced to bear children for the elite.
- Deepen BLO’s understanding of the dynamics of sexual and intimate partner violence through workshops and trainings.
- Provide a variety of supports to the audience experience at the theatre, including trained representatives on site to answer questions, talkbacks with experts alongside BLO artists, and referrals and resources.
- Enrich our opera performances onstage through artistic consultation and support.
If you are interested in learning more, please visit our partner organizations.1Via BARCC; Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
2Via Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence; data compiled from Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
An ambitious, immersive staging by Anne Bogart
and a fantastic cast and chorus.”
– The Boston Globe
“Unquestionably the finest,
most creative and unforgettable
production in BLO’s storied history.”
– South Shore Critic
“BLO’s ingenious, immersive staging…
ensures that the audience
cannot escape its message.”
– Wall Street Journal
“This is a triumph for the Boston company.”
– The New York Times
“A powerful gut punch of a production.”
“An effective, strong opera, exceptionally well presented…Striking and moving”
– Boston Musical Intelligencer
For press images, please visit
The Handmaid’s Tale Media Kit