Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Sci-Fi Opera THE BRADBURY TATTOOS To Premiere This July

Sci-Fi Opera THE BRADBURY TATTOOS To Premiere This July In the nearly 70 years since late author Ray Bradbury published "The Illustrated Man," various short stories in the classic science fiction anthology have been adapted for film, stage and television. Now, four of them serve as the basis for "The Bradbury Tattoos," an ambitious new rock opera, scheduled to premiere July 13 and 22 at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati.

Written by composer Zac Greenberg and librettist Michael Burnham, "The Bradbury Tattoos" will be presented by concert:nova, a contemporary-classical ensemble founded by musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Partial funding for the production is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

"The opera is in four movements," Greenberg explained. "The first three movements happen simultaneously, in different rooms. The audience moves from room to room, and then everyone comes together in the main hall for the grand finale."

Stylistically, the movements range from classical string quartet to avant-garde classical, folk and big band. Though the stories are different, they share a common theme of humans coping with a frightening future:

  • "Kaleidoscope" - The crew of a disabled spacecraft reflects on their lives, while drifting toward death.

  • "Zero Hour" - Children play a game called "Invasion," which turns out to be more than a game.

  • "The Highway" - A husband and wife who live near a highway help refugees fleeing a nuclear war.

  • "The Last Night of the World" - A married couple goes about their normal routines, despite realizing that the world is about to end.

As in Bradbury's original book, the operatic stories are woven together by an enigmatic character called "the Illustrated Man," whose body is covered by animated tattoos. For "The Bradbury Tattoos," Greenberg and his collaborators enlisted the help of renowned tattoo artist Steven Mast to design the visual elements.

"The opera is about how people react to unusual situations," Greenberg said. "After David Bowie died, I was talking with Ted Nelson, co-artistic director of concert:nova, about how so much of his music was character-driven. We wanted to do something similar, and then I started thinking about Ray Bradbury's stories. We approached Michael Burnham to write the libretto."

Burnham is a retired theatre professor, who formerly taught at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). He has narrated symphony concerts for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Salt Lake Symphony Opera and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, among others. His adaptation of Stravinsky's "l'Histoire du Soldat" (which he directed while playing the Devil) premiered at the Salt Lake Symphony Opera. He is a recipient of the League of Cincinnati Theatres' Sustained Achievement Award and was inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame.

"Bradbury is not giving us cautionary tales here, so much as he is pointing out all the little things we want to and ought to hang onto and cherish as we struggle in our move toward a more just and loving world," Burnham said.

Greenberg, who is based in New York, has composed music for numerous film and stage productions. His credits include the feature-length motion picture "Straight Outta Tompkins" in addition to modern dance projects for Sean Green's Shieldwall, Charlotte Katherine & Co. in Los Angeles, the Cincinnati Ballet Company, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and more. He is the founder of Taste Recording Studio NYC and is a cofounder of Almost Holden Collective LA-NYC and Musicians for Health.

The world premiere of "The Bradbury Tattoos" will take place at Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, July 13, at 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 22, at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 general admission/$20 students and are available at or by calling (513) 977-8838. Information about "The Bradbury Tattoos" and concert:nova is available at

More Hot Stories For You

Opera Orlando to Present Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE at Dr. Phillips CenterOpera Orlando to Present Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE at Dr. Phillips Center
August 17, 2022

To open the Opera on the MainStage series, Opera Orlando presents Mozart's The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte). Bring the family to this enchanting and whimsical tale about love and light, sacrifice and darkness, and finding one's place in the world.

Christopher Cano Joins Washington National Opera As The Director Of The Cafritz Young Artists And American Opera InitiativeChristopher Cano Joins Washington National Opera As The Director Of The Cafritz Young Artists And American Opera Initiative
August 17, 2022

Christopher Cano will join Washington National Opera (WNO) as the Director of the Cafritz Young Artists (CYA) and American Opera Initiative (AOI) in September ahead of the WNO's 2022–2023 season. Cano will work closely with General Director Timothy O'Leary and Artistic Director Francesca Zambello to lead the two nationally recognized programs dedicated to advancing opera by training and giving voice to the next generation of singers, pianists/coaches, composers, and librettists.

Opera At Florham Presents 2023 International Vocal CompetitionOpera At Florham Presents 2023 International Vocal Competition
August 17, 2022

Opera at Florham will present its 33rd Annual International Vocal Competition on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 3 p.m.

Opera At Florham Presents THE ROYALTY OF OPERAOpera At Florham Presents THE ROYALTY OF OPERA
August 17, 2022

Join us for an incredible Concert exploring the Royalty of Opera In honor of the Queen's platinum jubilee on Sunday April 16, 2023 at 3 pm.

Ashkenaz Festival 2022 to Present North American Premiere of Yiddish Opera Henekh Kon's BAS SHEVEAshkenaz Festival 2022 to Present North American Premiere of Yiddish Opera Henekh Kon's BAS SHEVE
August 17, 2022

Ashkenaz Festival 2022 will present the North American premiere of Henekh Kon’s BAS SHEVE based on the controversial biblical story of David and Bathsheba - This is the first Yiddish Opera every presented in Canada.