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Jesus Garcia, Edward Nelson, Alan Pingarrón, Emma Sorenson and More Join Opera Miniseries DESERT IN

"desert in" is a series full of colorful and mysterious characters who populate a supernatural story of love, loss, and the price of memories we struggle to keep.

Jesus Garcia, Edward Nelson, Alan Pingarrón, Emma Sorenson and More Join Opera Miniseries DESERT IN

The team behind the operatic miniseries "desert in," now in production for a June 2021 debut on Boston Lyric Opera's streaming service, announced today an award-winning roster of composers and performers working on the project.

Co-created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid ("p r i s m"), playwright and screenwriter christopher oscar peña ("Jane the Virgin," "Insecure"), and film and opera director James Darrah ("The Fall of the House of Usher" for; "Close Quarters" for L.A. Chamber Orchestra), "desert in" is a groundbreaking, eight-part series full of colorful and mysterious characters who populate a supernatural story of love, loss, and the price of memories we struggle to keep.

Composers being announced for "desert in" include the following (in alpha order):

  • Michael Abels, a composer/producer who scored Jordan Peele's Academy Award-winning films "Get Out" and "Us." The hip-hop-influenced "Us" score won the World Soundtrack Award and the Jerry Goldsmith Award, received a Critic's Choice Award nomination, and was called "Score of the Decade" by The Wrap. Abels is co-composing an opera, "Omar," with Carolina Chocolate Drops founding member Rhiannon Giddens.

  • Grammy-nominated composer, jazz pianist and MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship Award-winner Vijay Iyer, who has released two dozen jazz albums leading various musical groups, including the critically acclaimed "Historicity," several narrative-driven works with poet-producer Mike Ladd and a live film score.

  • Haitian-American composer, flutist and vocalist Nathalie Joachim, who received a Best Global Music Album Grammy Award nomination for the recording of her full-length work "Fanm d'Ayiti," which celebrates some of Haiti's under-recognized female artists.

  • Nico Muhly, who has written more than 100 works, including the operas "Two Boys" and "Marnie," both of which premiered at English National Opera and were commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Muhly's stage and screen work includes music for the Broadway revival of "The Glass Menagerie" and the Academy Award-winning film "The Reader," for which he won a World Soundtrack Award.

  • Irish composer and vocalist Emma O'Halloran, whose work has been featured at the international Classical NEXT Conference in Rotterdam and at New York's Prototype Festival, and who won numerous awards including National Sawdust's inaugural Hildegard competition.

  • Ellen Reid, who received the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera "p r i s m." Reid is the first composer commissioned by -- and to have world premieres at -- all four of Los Angeles' major classical music institutions. Reid's film scores include "The Midnight Swim" and "Buster's Mal Heart." Her site-specific "Soundwalk" installations in New York and Los Angeles have drawn critical acclaim.

  • Wang Lu, a composer and pianist who serves as Vanguard Emerging Opera Composer at the Chicago Opera Theatre and received the Berlin Prize in Music Composition in 2019. Wang is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and Assistant Professor of Music at Brown University.

  • Composer and performer Shelley Washington, whose string quartet piece "MIDDLEGROUND" appears on the 2019 Grammy-nominated album "Freedom and Faith." Washington recently recorded with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and is creating a new work for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Musical performers for "desert in'' are an eclectic mix of artists who work in a wide array of genres. Some of the performers below appear and sing on screen; others lend their voices to the soundtrack as on-screen actors embody the characters whose words and thoughts are being sung.

The musical performers include:

Onscreen performers-

  • Grammy Award-winning mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard (singing and portraying Cass) made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2007 before going on to international fame. Leonard's recordings of Thomas Adès's "The Tempest" and Maurice Ravel's "L'enfant et les sortilèges" netted her two Grammy wins. Along with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard won a 2020 Best Classical Compendium Grammy Award (her third) for Thomas's "From the Diary of Anne Frank & Meditations on Rilke."

  • Soprano Talise Trevigne (singing and portraying Sunny) received a Best Classical Solo Vocal Album Grammy Award nomination for her recording of Christopher Rouse's "Seeing & Kabir Padavali." Trevigne appeared in the 2018 World Premiere cast of Missy Mazzoli's opera "Proving Up" and on the opera's original cast recording released in 2020.

  • Tony Award-nominated actor, alt-cabaret singer, and trans activist Justin Vivian Bond (singing and portraying The Lounge Singer) has a stage and screen career that includes: Olga Neuwirth's 2019 opera "Orlando"; "Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway"; the Netflix series "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City"; the Hulu series "Difficult People"; and the films "Shortbus" and "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" Bond's accolades include a GLAAD Award, an Obie Award, a Bessie, and the Ethyl Eichelberger Award.

Vocal performers -

  • Baritone Edward Nelson (singing Ion) won the 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup and is a fast-rising young singer. This season he returns to Norwegian National Opera in the title role of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" and makes his Opera Theatre of St. Louis debut as the title character in "Harvey Milk."

  • Tony Award-winning tenor Jesus Garcia (singing Rufus) received acclaim for his turn as Rodolfo in the Baz Luhrmann-directed opera "La Bohème" on Broadway. Garcia performs operatic roles across the country and around the world, and debuted his solo song-cycle performance "Manifest Destiny by Jesus G" in 2019.

  • Renowned tenor Alan Pingarrón (singing Federico) studied at the National School of Music in Mexico City and won the Gabino Barreda Medal for outstanding achievement. He appeared as a special guest in the National Opera Singing Competition of San Miguel and was a Jette Parker Young Artists for 2019/20 with the Royal Opera House.

  • Bass-baritone Davóne Tines (singing Old Man/Derek) received the 2018 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, collaborated with American theatre and opera directing legend Peter Sellars, and was named a TIME magazine "Next Generation Leader" in 2019.

  • Singing a ghostly Greek-chorus-like trio known as "Vapors" are soprano Brianna J. Robinson, mezzo-soprano Emma Sorenson and tenor Neal Ferreira.

Additional on-screen performers will be announced later.

The artists above join a robust Writers Room team that crafted the story and wrote the libretti with Lead Writer christopher oscar peña and Deputy Lead Writer Joy Kecken (writer/director for HBO's "The Wire", Supervising Producer on Marvel's "Cloak and Dagger," co-Executive Producer on Freeform's "Motherland: Fort Salem"), and whose members were announced previously.

They include (in alpha order):

  • Obie Award-winning "Milk Like Sugar" playwright Kirsten Greenidge;

  • "Hi, Are You Single?" playwright and actor Ryan J. Haddad;

  • "Amputees" playwright Quentin Nguyen-duy;

  • "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them" playwright A. Rey Pamatmat;

  • Sundance Playwright Fellow and librettist Roxie Perkins; and

  • Composer and playwright Jesse J. Sanchez, "SUEÑOS."

MUSIC TEAM FOR "desert in"

Music Director for "desert in" is David Angus, leading members of the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra (Annie Rabbat, violin and Concertmaster; Leowi Lin, cello; Jan Halloran, clarinet/bass clarinet; Linda Toote, flute/alto flute; Richard Flanagan, percussion; Craig McNutt, percussion; and Brett Hodgdon, keyboard player/operator.) Audio Recording Engineer and Music Mixing is by Daniel Neumann. Studio Recording Engineering is by Immersive Music Project.

DESIGN TEAM FOR "desert in"

Michael Elias Thomas is the Director of Photography for "desert in." Production Designer is Yuki Izumihara. Costume Designer is Molly Irelan. Gaffer/Lighting Designer is Pablo Santiago.


Executive Producers for "desert in" are Bradley Vernatter, Esther Nelson and Jessica Johnson Brock for Boston Lyric Opera. Co-Executive Producers are Jennifer Rivera and James Darrah for Long Beach Opera. Consulting Producer is Joy Kecken. Producer is Theory & Practice Productions (Tony Shayne, Pranav Shah; Assistant Producer Kerstin Heinrich). Associate Producer is Bailey Costa.

"Desert in" is commissioned and produced by Boston Lyric Opera, and produced in association with Long Beach Opera.

"Desert in" debuts on BLO's streaming service in June 2021. Pricing starts at $5 per episode. is available at the website and through branded apps on Apple, Google, Amazon and Roku platforms.

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