Gothic Opera ProjectThe Opera Parallèle Graphic Opera Project is a lab in its first installment that has melded the genres of the Graphic Novel with Opera to create Graphic Opera. The music and text of Gesualdo, Prince of Madness has been interpreted by concept designer Brian Staufenbiel, illustrator Mark Simmons, and animator Sony Green, into a story book form that visually paints the story as a graphic novel. Now integrated to music, the Graphic Opera will be experienced through a series of projections on a large screen that will at times come alive to better enhance the drama. The singers will be located on the side of the stage while the story unfolds on the screen. This workshop will be the first phase in Opera Parallèle’s development of Graphic Opera as a new genre. In the long-term, the visual component will show various degrees of animation and it is hoped that in the future, this art form will embrace the full spectrum of animated imagery that this new technology enables. For the reading workshop on June 7th, the instrumentation will be piano, electronic keyboard, theorbo and percussion.

Opera Parallèle Graphic Opera lab was conceived by Brian Staufenbiel

About the Composer
   |   Synopsis   |   Cast

The production of Gesualdo, Prince of Madness received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Fund 

About the Composer

A native of southern California, composer Dante De Silva’s many works include music for chamber, choral, orchestral and theatrical ensembles as well as solo and electronic music. Works being premiered in the 2012-13 season include Mr. Distinguished by Vipisa; Drive-Thru Etudes, Book 1 by Ryan MacEvoy McCullough; and Wake the Dead by the Saguaro Trio. Other projects include EP and LP, Engine Room (for Eugene Novotney and the Humboldt State University Percussion Ensemble), and the second book of Drive-Thru Etudes for solo piano.

De Silva holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from UCLA, an M.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a B.A. from Humboldt State University. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.


ACT I   Castle Gesualdo, October 1590

Maria Gesualdo and her secret lover Fabrizio begin a night of carnal delights, each expressing their desires for each other. Maria uses Fabrizio as an outlet for her increasing sorrow over her husband, Carlo. After the lovers fall asleep, a brokenhearted Carlo Gesualdo sneaks into the room seething. Carlo calls in his guards to drag Fabrizio away. After a heated back and forth, Carlo stabs Maria. Anna, her most trusted servant, rushes in to help Maria, but is stabbed to death by a still enraged Carlo. In his delirious state, he calls Fabrizio back to the room. When Fabrizio arrives, Carlo kills him instantly and walks out of the room disgusted.

ACT II   Castle Gesualdo, decades later

After leaving Castle Gesualdo, Carlo and his new wife, Leonora, return. Through the years, Carlo has deteriorated mentally and physically, and this change puts Leonora in a desperate state. After receiving a letter of condolence from her cousin, Leonora begs Carlo to move away to her brother’s home. Carlo, seeing the request as a threat, quickly forbids the move and storms out of the room.

Carlo returns to writing his madrigal. The ghost of Maria returns and subtly torments Carlo. Carlo forces Leonora to listen to his madrigal as he describes his motivations for the piece. A little later, as he is being carried to see Leonora, Carlo is also led by the ghosts of Maria and Fabrizio. The pressure keeps building until Carlo figures out the ending of the madrigal. Suddenly, the ghosts of Maria and Fabrizio are gone and he gains a sense of freedom. He happily takes a drink of the wine that Leonora and Artemisia have offered and releases Leonora to her own will.

Cast of Characters

Carlo: Daniel Cilli
Maria: Michelle Rice
Leonora: Maya Kherani
Fabrizio:  Andres Ramirez
Artemisia, Anna & Patrizia: Nikola Printz
Orazio:  Chris Filipowicz
Female Trio:  Sarah Eve Brand, Lora Libby & Rachel Rush



Piano:  Keisuke Nakagoshi
Keyboard:  Eva-Maria Zimmerman
Theorbo:  Adam Cockerham
Percussion:  McKenzie Camp


Production Team

Nicole Paiement:  Conductor, Artistic Director
Brian Staufenbiel:  Graphic Opera Concept and Stage Director
Mark Simmons:  Graphic Artist
Sony Green:  Animator
Keisuke Nakagoshi:  Rehearsal Accompanist
Jason O’Connell:  Sound Engineer / Technical Support
Jacques Desjardins:  General Manager
Laura Anderson:  Stage Manager