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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 12, 2024

It takes a village - and multiple revisions! - to mount a modern, original opera. Key Change co-hosts Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia journey to an orchestral workshop for The Pigeon Keeper, a first for Opera For All Voices (OFAV)! 

Imagine a stage filled with an eight-member student orchestra, four principal singers, and a women's chorus. Drop in the composer, librettist, and members of the OFAV team. Truncate the rehearsal period and invite an audience for a live presentation plus a feedback session. Now, you understand the excitement and angst surrounding an orchestral workshop.

Andrea reconnects with Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist, and David Hanlon, composer, the imaginative duo behind this poignant story of home and hospitality in a time of conflict and need, along with Kelly Kuo, music director & conductor. We also hear from the extended community of artists and students of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, who are shepherding The Pigeon Keeper from page to stage–with Daniel Millan, clarinetist; Nathan Harah, Kosmo; Ava Hawkins, ensemble; Jamiyah Hudson, ensemble; and Rada Grin, mother of Nathan Harah.

“As people who’ve been fully invested in this project, it's often very difficult to be objective about what’s actually being communicated [by the piece],” says Kelly, who notes that university collaborations, like this one with the U-M, provide the creative team with invaluable contextual information. Workshops also allow students to interact with professional companies. “The chorus is made up of undergraduates volunteering time outside their own classwork and their other choruses,” marvels Kelly. “It says a lot about their commitment to this project.”

“It's speaking to their hearts,” observes Stephanie. “That makes me feel like the message of the piece is reaching all people.” 

But how did the audience respond? You’ll have to wait until our next episode to find out.

Thank you to Caitlin Lynch, Jayce Ogren, and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. 

Interviews with David, Stephanie & Kelly and Nathan & Rada recorded by Dave Schall at DSA Villa Valentine Studio, outside Ann Arbor, MI. Additional voice recording by Ice Cream Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA.


Arts Initiative at the University of Michigan

University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance

San Francisco Boys Chorus

Contemporary Directions Ensemble

Freedom House


Stephanie Fleischmann, Librettist

David Hanlon, Composer

Kelly Kuo, Music Director And Conductor


Season 2 Episode 4 - Hope Is the Thing With Feathers: A first look at The Pigeon Keeper

Season 4 Episode 4 - In a Room Making Music With People: The Pigeon Keeper with Stephanie Fleischmann and David Hanlon

Season 4 Episode 9 - Competing Interest: How Do You Workshop a New Opera?


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

Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz

Production Support from Alex Riegler

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 And for more Key Change, visit