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A West Edge Opera Commission

World Premiere 2026

The Silent Partner

Matthew Recio, Composer

Stephanie Fleischmann, Librettist

Partners Include: Seattle Opera


The opera tells the story of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore: two women – romantic and artistic partners - Jewish activists and surrealist photographers who used their art to magnify resistance against Nazi Germany.


Says librettist Fleischmann, ‘When I first came across the iconic image of Claude Cahun in boxing garb, with the words “Don’t kiss me, I’m in training” inscribed across their chest, I felt I had found my hero. Delving deeper into their body of work, which encompasses surrealist writing and collage as well as chameleonic feminist self-portraiture prefiguring Cindy Sherman by half a century, I was transfixed by their collaboration with lifelong partner Marcel Moore and the way these two women—camouflaged as a pair of cat-loving spinsters—harnessed their inquiry into gender and identity to implement a resistance on the Isle of Jersey during World War II that was perceived by the Germans as the work of a small army. Larger than life, infused with a dream logic and a heightened, angular theatricality, their story was crying out to be opera.’


The Silent Partner is the third complete length opera to be commissioned and developed by West Edge Opera. The Silent Partner was initially commissioned in 2023. 


Commissioners & Supporters Include: Norm Abramson, Hilary Honore, Terry McKelvey & Heli Roiha, Erica Nietfeld & Royce Kelley, Michael Walsh, and The National Endowment for the Arts


The development of The Silent Partner is taking place over the course of three years, with a series of milestones built into the process including:


June 2023 | A libretto reading of The Silent Partner with actors from Oakland Theater Project, led by Elkhanah Pulitzer


April 2024 | A piano-vocal workshop of The Silent Partner at Seattle Opera, led by conductor Jonathan Khuner, director Elkahanah Pulitzer and dramaturg Felix King.


August 2025 | Preview Performance at The Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco.


World Premiere: August 2026


Lead Creative Team

Conductor: Jonathan Khuner

Director: Elkhanah Pulitzer

Dramaturg: Felix King

Composer: Matthew Recio

Librettist: Stephanie Fleischmann


Bulrusher is a part of West Edge Opera’s Pacific Opera Initiative (POI) - an integrated platform for new opera commissions, development, programming, and partnerships that approaches the creation of new American opera with a fresh take.

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