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A West Edge Opera Commission

World Premiere 2024


Nathaniel Stookey, Composer,

Libretto by Eisa Davis and Nathaniel Stookey

Based on the play by Eisa Davis

"Stookey’s writing has an eloquent gentility, and the libretto — studded with Boontling, the quirky patois of generations of inhabitants — sparkles from line to line."


Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle (from Snapshot 2021 performance)


Nathaniel Stookey

Eisa Davis.jpg

Eisa Davis

Bulrusher is a coming of age story about an African-American girl growing up in Northern California’s remote Anderson Valley in 1955. Found in a basket by the river, she is raised by the local schoolteacher and has never seen anyone that looks like her until a young Black woman from Alabama comes to town. Meeting someone like herself opens a political, sexual and identity awakening within her.

Bulrusher is based on Eisa Davis’ play of the same title, short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

The development of the complete opera Bulrusher will take place over the course of three years, with a series of milestones built into the process.


Milestone #1: October 2020. A libretto reading with actors, dramaturg Leigh Rondon-Davis, West Edge General Director Mark Streshinsky.


Milestone #2: May 2021 A selection of music from Bulrusher, presented to the public as a part of SNAPSHOT 2021.


Milestone #3: November 2021 Piano-vocal workshop at Cincinnatti Opera’s Opera Fusion: New Works program, supported by The Mellon Foundation, in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Watch here.


Milestone #4: August 14th, 2022 Preview Performance at The Taube Atrium Theater in

San Francisco.

Milestone #5: January 2024, Full Piano Workshop Cincinnati, OH

World Premiere: July 2024


Bulrusher is commissioned by: Bernice Lindstrom; Todd Yancey, MD and David Denniston; Michèle and Larry Corash; Russ Irwin; Robert Ripps and Steven Spector.

Bulrusher is supported by The National Endowment for the Arts and The Carol Franc Buck Foundation.


We are currently seeking workshop and production sponsors. If you would like to be involved in the creation of this important opera, please contact Emilie Whelan.

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