Houston Grand Opera, Houston, TX
The Civil War is raging, and the country is burning. Men are slaughtering each other on the battlefield, but it is two women who possess the deadliest weapon of all: Intelligence, made more powerful by its invisibility. Who would guess that Elizabeth Van Lew, from a prominent Confederate family, is running a secret pro-Union spy ring? That Mary Jane Bowser, born into slavery in the Van Lew household, not only has been taught to read and write, but is also possessed of a photographic memory? The HGO-commissioned world-premiere opera Intelligence, inspired by the little-known true story of these two unlikely spies, unfolds as Elizabeth sends Mary Jane to live in the Confederate White House. As Mary Jane uncovers the secrets of the Confederacy to share with Union military commanders, she also uncovers the secrets of her own history and identity.
Shared through a fusion of music, words, and dance, this new American epic is the creation of a powerhouse trio: composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and director/choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The sensational cast is led by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Elizabeth, with soprano Janai Brugger making her anticipated company debut as the brilliant Mary Jane. Acclaimed conductor Kwamé Ryan takes the podium for his HGO debut.