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Opera for All Voices (OFAV) began as a consortium of North American opera companies committed to co-commissioning and co-producing new operatic works for audiences of all ages that bear the same artistic integrity and depth of storytelling as main stage works. Over several years it has grown in its mission to tell "stories of our time." Follow host Andrea Fellows Fineberg from The Santa Fe Opera and OFAV collaborators and stakeholders as we explore the process, the context, and the story of commissioning and producing new operas in America.

Jun 29, 2022

Hurry up and wait. When your world premier is stopped in its tracks by forces beyond your control, “momentum” is measured a bit differently. Andrea Fellows Fineberg chats with composer David Hanlon and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, the creative duo behind The Pigeon Keeper, about maintaining artistic progress during the pandemic, the limits of virtual collaboration, and finally (finally!) preparing for live performances. 

All aboard the Opera For All Voices time machine for a quick review! The Pigeon Keeper was initially scheduled for a workshop in 2020 and its world premier in 2021. Best laid plans, right?

But one thing opera and a pandemic have in common is the power to stretch time. Or maybe freeze it. However defined, those protracted months presented David and Stephanie with additional opportunities to tinker, aided by technology and unexpected (if limited) solitude. 

“One of the joys of working with Stephanie is it's a very collaborative back-and-forth thing,” David says. Still, he admits that some discoveries can only happen in real life.

Now that conditions have improved (fingers crossed), The Pigeon Keeper is set to soar. Accompanied by a stirring chorus of young voices provided by the San Francisco Girls Chorus, this OFAV commission follows a father and daughter as they navigate unimaginable loss. 

The story couldn't be more immediate in light of so many concurrent global tragedies, says Stephanie. “Now, with Ukraine, the question of refugees and children leaving their homes, making huge journeys to other places and losing everything that they know, the resonance and relevance of this piece have only grown in the time we've been waiting to bring it into the world.”


David Hanlon, Composer

Stephanie Fleischmann, Librettist

Audio Sample from the San Francisco Girls Chorus from The Pigeon Keeper

Audio Sample of “We’ve Been Getting By” from The Pigeon Keeper featuring bass-baritone Michael Sumuel and pianist Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad.


San Francisco Girls Chorus

Opera America - New Works Exploration Grant


Season 2, Episode 4 “Hope Is The Thing With Feathers” - A first look at The Pigeon Keeper 


Key Change is a production of The Santa Fe Opera in collaboration with Opera for All Voices.

Produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios

Hosted by Andrea Fellows Fineberg

Audio Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe

Show Notes: Lisa Widder

Theme music by Rene Orth with Corrie Stallings, mezzo-soprano, and Joe Becktell, cello

Cover art by Dylan Crouch

This podcast is made possible due to the generous funding from the Melville Hankins Family Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.  

To learn more about Opera For All Voices, visit us at