Boston Lyric Opera is committed to the opera of tomorrow—and the Company is proud to do our part to give the composers and writers of today a stage to help those works find a voice

In recent Seasons, BLO has reaffirmed its commitment to new works and has built relationships with today’s leading composers and librettists, often in conjunction with the Company’s acclaimed Opera Annex series. “Commissioning new works and bringing them to Boston audiences first is one of my highest priorities for Boston Lyric Opera’s next decade,” says Stanford Calderwood General & Artistic Director Esther Nelson. New works like these push the boundaries of the operatic art form forward, challenge audiences to listen and experience opera anew, and provide opportunities for artists at every level, from singers to composers, writers to designers, from Boston and from around the world.

Schoenberg in Hollywood

An Opera by Tod Machover
Music by Tod Machover
Libretto by Simon Robson
Based on a Scenario by Braham Murray
Commissioned by Boston Lyric Opera

World Premiere Production: November 14-18, 2018

The brilliant composer Arnold Schoenberg fled the darkness and despair of Hitler’s Europe and found himself in 1930s Hollywood—a bold, new world of golden sunshine and camera-ready beauty. Can he find a way to reconcile reflection with action, and tradition with revolution? What is the meaning of art in the wake of atrocity?
In this World Premiere from BLO’s New Works Initiative, internationally acclaimed composer Tod Machover, based in Boston, along with librettist Simon Robson, explores a great artist’s personal struggle, finding humor, heroism, and—ultimately—hope.

A sneak peek at Schoenberg in Hollywood from Media and Projection Designer, Peter Torpey

The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of

The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare

Music by Julian Grant | Libretto by Mark Campbell
A World Premiere commissioned by Music-Theatre Group with the support of Boston Lyric Opera

November 8-12, 2017 at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts

Edinburgh, 1828. The city’s world-renowned anatomy schools suffer from a cadaver shortage. Two industrious men—William Burke and William Hare—find lucrative work by murdering disenfranchised citizens and selling their corpses to Dr. Knox’s academy. Brutally funny and highly theatrical, irreverent and fast-paced, this chamber opera is based on real events.

Composer Julian Grant says he was intrigued by the challenges of making Burke and Hare sing, and felt the story lent itself to being told with deathly humor—and a touch of vaudeville. “Five victims are central characters in our story,” Grant says. “They interact with the living, adding a level of pathos and sympathy to the all-pervading villainy.”

Librettist Mark Campbell says the themes of the opera resonate deeply today. “I was attracted to the real story of Burke and Hare because it occurs in a morally upended world—not unlike our own—where profit is pitted against science, and greed against good. Adding a good deal of mordant humor to a potentially grim tale helps engage the audience with the story.”

Campbell wrote the libretto for Silent Night (2012), which won the Pulitzer Prize that year for composer Kevin Puts, and recently completed Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of The Shining, based on Stephen King’s horror novel. Grant is the composer of more than 18 operas, including works for English National Opera, the Royal Opera and others.

Music-Theatre Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping artists turn creative inspiration into dramatically compelling music-theatre works. Since 1970, MTG has helped inspiration take flight by creating a collaborative community that enables artists to tap into their collective imaginations and generate original works that tell stories driven by music. MTG is a place where composers, poets, playwrights, choreographers, designers and directors synthesize their creative spirits to make truly groundbreaking productions. Internationally renowned for its commitment to the creation of work that embraces different art forms, MTG has produced a stunning roster of fully integrated music-theatre works -ranging from chamber-sized to full-scale operas and productions.

Visit for reviews, cast headshots and bios, more photos, and additional information.

Select photos from the World Premiere production

Boston Showcase and Q&A, Feb 2017

In February 2017, BLO performed selections from Burke & Hare at the Boston Center for the Arts with a cast of local artists. With commentary and discussion by conductor David Angus, composer Julian Grant and stage director David Schweizer, this showcase allowed a small group of BLO donors and supporters to get a sneak peek at the work-in-progress.

OPERA America New Works Showcase, Jan 2017

In January 2017, selections from Burke & Hare were performed at the OPERA America New Opera Showcase, an evening of orchestral readings of new and recently premiered operas.