THE NIGHT FLIGHT OF MINERVA’S OWL
A Social Justice Opera
Music by Guang Yang & Libretto by Paula Cizmar
As opera companies start to reach out and develop new forms and audiences, some companies are deliberately commissioning work that speaks to communities about change. One of these opera companies is the Pittsburgh Festival Opera which includes the Music That Matters program in their mission. THE NIGHT FLIGHT OF MINERVA’S OWL is the winner of PFO’s latest Music That Matters competition. Written by librettist Paula Cizmar (ITSC member) and composer Guang Yang, THE NIGHT FLIGHT OF MINERVA’S OWL uses a magical creature, Lady Owl, the spirit guide of the goddess of wisdom, to transcend time and space to weave together the stories of three girls. One of them, a girl in the Colorado Rockies in the 1870s, is forbidden to go to school and instead must suffer the indignities of working at her family’s saloon when she really wants to study the stars. Another girl in 1907 China tries to stop the foot binders from hobbling her and making her suitable for men when she really wants to study numbers and history and geography like her brothers. And the last girl is an illiterate member of the Amazigh in present-day Morocco who disguises herself as a boy so that she can run away and avoid a forced marriage because she really wants to learn to read and write. The opera uses mystery, myth, and great female figures from history to dramatize the centuries old and ongoing struggle that women face to be recognized as equals in society. THE NIGHT FLIGHT OF MINERVA’S OWL will receive its World Premiere at Pittsburgh Festival Opera in July 2020.