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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.

Apr 12, 2023

Roadtrip! After many long months of necessary virtual collaboration, the creative team behind The Pigeon Keeper, a Santa Fe Opera Opera For All Voices (OFAV) commission, finally got to spread their wings for an emotional workshop in San Francisco. 

Key Change co-hosts Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia discover what it was like to have everyone (well, almost everyone) in the same room for the very first time––featuring composer David Hanlon, librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, stage director Mary Birnbaum, music director Kelly Kuo, dramaturg Cori Ellison, Ruth Nott, consultant for OFAV, plus Elinore (Ellie) Pett-Ridge Hennessy, Azaria Stauffer-Barney, and Ruby Recht-Appel, all members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC).

"Stephanie and I really love working and responding in the moment," says David, excited to sit beside The Pigeon Keeper's librettist in real time and space. 

For those unfamiliar with the process of developing new operatic works, workshops put the pieces and performers together for a rigorous, accelerated series of rehearsals, and what some may call a smash-through – the first time the piece is heard by the artists in person all the way through, without stopping (even if there are mistakes.) Then the piece is presented to an invited audience of folks who may be interested to produce or present the opera in the future.  “We're always trying things out, which is really exciting. But,” David admits, “there's a lot of flux to that.” 

Workshops are, by their nature, intense. Witnessing The Pigeon Keeper live, with its fairytale-like exploration of chosen family and mass migration, profoundly impacted participants of this workshop, especially members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC), whose voices add poignant commentary to the storytelling. "I'm not gonna lie to you. I read through the music, and I started tearing up," recalls Ellie. "It just feels like home."

And it feels one step closer to realizing The Pigeon Keeper as a fully staged production.


David Hanlon - Composer, The Pigeon Keeper

Stephanie Fleischmann - Librettist, The Pigeon Keeper

Mary Birnbaum - Stage Director

Kelly Kuo - Music Director

Cori Ellison - Dramaturg

Ruth Nott - Consultant, Opera for All Voices

Elinore (Ellie) Pett-Ridge Hennessy, Azaria Stauffer-Barney, and Ruby Recht-Appel - Members, San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe


KCP0204: Hope Is the Thing With Feathers: A first look at The Pigeon Keeper

KCP0404 - In a Room Making Music With People: The Pigeon Keeper with Stephanie Fleischmann and David Hanlon


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 & Anna Garcia

Audio Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe

Show Notes by  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 Hankins Foundation, the Andrew W Mellon foundation, and an Opera America innovation Grant supported by the Anne & Gordon Getty Foundation.  

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