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This year Opera Outreach presents a new production!  We are presenting The Hiding Tree by Edward Barnes, which is loosely based on an ancient folktale from the islands of Micronesia. George, the hungry sea dragon, crawls out of the sea and devours all of the people on a small island except for two sisters. The sisters escape the belly of the beast and work together to defeat it. This is a 35 minute opera for piano, 6 singers, and a narrator. Appropriate for grades 2+.

For more information, use the buttons below.

    George the Sea Dragon

For booking or more information, contact Opera Outreach Coordinator Abigail Head at

The Hiding Tree

The Hiding Tree, by Edward Barnes, is loosely based on an ancient folktale from the islands of Micronesia. A hungry monster crawls out of the sea and is set on devouring all of the people on a small island. Two sisters escape its clutches, and work together to defeat it. This 35 minute opera teaches children about solving problems for the greater good, that strength is not just physical, and the love survives everything.

The Hiding Tree creates an environment for children to become involved and enveloped in the world of opera. The audience is taken on a journey as two sisters face the tremendous challenges while learning from each other and growing as both as individuals and as siblings.

Our fully-staged, fully-costumed production features a new set, and cast of seven upper-level students in voice. Peabody Opera Outreach will present the opera with keyboard and will prominently feature and encourage audience participation and involvement throughout the production. The Hiding Tree is appropriate for elementary school-aged children and anyone young at heart.

Educational materials are available upon request.



Composer: Edward Barnes

Edward Barnes studied music composition at the Juilliard School with composers Vincent Persichetti and David Diamond, and at Dartington Hall in the United Kingdom with composer-conductor Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Early in his career he established himself as an opera composer, working in Boston as resident composer of Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston and later at the Los Angeles Opera. For the Los Angeles Opera he wrote and music-directed his original operas "A Muskrat Lullaby", "A Place To Call Home", "Mystery on the Docks" as well as the opera revue "Murder at the Opera", a co-commission from the Los Angeles Opera and Houston Grand Opera.[1] His interest in theater and musical theater led him to found The Metro Ensemble, a new musical theater group based in Los Angeles for whom he created the critically acclaimed shows "The Vagabond Queen",[2] "Old Aunt Dinah’s Sure Guide To Dreams & Lucky Numbers", and "The Bones of Love". Other theater work has included scores for Lincoln Center Theater, Bay Street Theater, Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis, and the Directors Company. He received a Drama Desk nomination for his co-adaptation of the Vortex Theater's off-Broadway production of "HMS Pinafore" in 2007.[3] A resident artist at the Ucross Foundation, the Instituto Sacatar in Brazil, and the Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain, he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Stephen Sondheim Award.

In recent years, Barnes has begun working as a producer of theatrical and concert events in New York City. He was associate producer of both Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha" and Philip Glass's "The Juniper Tree" for the Collegiate Chorale at Lincoln Center, and coordinating producer of the NY Premiere of Leonard Bernstein's "A White House Cantata" at Jazz at Lincoln Center.[4] He produced the 2009 concert version of Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin's operetta, "The Firebrand of Florence", at the newly renovated Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, featuring Nathan Gunn, Anna Christy, Victoria Clark, Terrence Mann and David Pittu, to great critical acclaim.[5] In March 2010, he produced the Collegiate Chorale's Carnegie Hall concert of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie's opera, "The Grapes of Wrath", starring Jane Fonda, Christine Ebersole, Victoria Clark, Nathan Gunn and Steven Pasquale. Also for The Collegiate Chorale, he produced the January 2011 Lincoln Center performances of "Knickerbocker Holiday" by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson, starring Kelli O'Hara and Victor Garber, as well as the live cast album of the same released by Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records.[6] Other producing projects have include the Tracy Letts play, Superior Donuts, on Broadway, Mas Alla del Tiempo and Estas Ahi for the Teatro Paseo La Plaza in Buenos Aires, and audio productions for Night Kitchen Radio Theater and XM Satellite Radio. Formerly the Managing Director of American Lyric Theater, he was appointed Producing Director of The Collegiate Chorale in the summer of 2013,[7] producing David Lang's battle hymns at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum,[8] Not the Messiah, an oratorio by Eric Idle and John DuPrez based on the Monty Python film The Life of Brian at Carnegie Hall,[9] and Kurt Weill's spectacle, The Road of Promise, also at Carnegie Hall.[10] In May 2015 he was appointed Executive Director of Gotham Chamber Opera.[11]

Director: Garnett Bruce

Garnett Bruce has had an active directing career at national opera houses including Chicago Lyric, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Wolf Trap, and also abroad in Vancouver and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. He has served on the staff of the Santa Fe Opera and since 1993 at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Bruce has assisted such figures as Harold Prince, Leonard Bernstein, David Hockney, and (on a continuing basis) Francesca Zambello.

Born in Washington, DC, Bruce sang for five years as a choirboy at the Washington National Cathedral, and received a continuing faculty appointment in 2006 following three productions as a guest artist. Bruce earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude at Tufts University.

Music Director: Eileen Cornett

Eileen Cornett is director of the graduate Vocal Accompanying Program at Peabody Conservatory of Music and is currently celebrating her twenty-third year as principal faculty coach with Peabody’s Opera Department. She began her professional career as musical director of the Croswell Opera House (MI) and has subsequently conducted, coached, and arranged musical and operatic productions for numerous regional and international companies. Summer/guest faculty appointments include the Opera Theatre program at the Fairbanks (Alaska) Summer Arts Festival; the Lake Placid Institute in upstate NY, the Seagle Colony Summer Vocal Program in Schroon Lake, NY, the Tanz und Gesang Studio at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria, the Creaton Opera Company in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival in Maiori, Italy.

With the National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Kennedy Center Opera/Ballet Orchestras, Ms. Cornett has performed as solo, rehearsal, and orchestral pianist for conductors James Levine, Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Paul Gemignani, Bill Conte, and Marvin Hamlisch in concerts with The Three Tenors, Bryn Terfel, Anna Netrebko, Denyce Graves, Frederica von Stade, the late Rosemary Clooney, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. She has served as an official accompanist for the International Marian Anderson, the Annapolis Opera, Partners for The Arts, and the Ponselle Marylanders Vocal Competitions, and has collaborated in recital at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre, Merkin Hall, the Embassies of France and Russia, and Strathmore Hall.

Ms. Cornett has toured and performed nationally with the musical political satire group The Capitol Steps, and is a member of a chamber music trio, Northern Accord. She and her husband, tenor Stanley Cornett, make their home in Baltimore, where they are the extremely proud parents of two young women, Lydia and Emily.

As One

As One, conceived by American composer Laura Kaminsky with libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, was commissioned and developed by the American Opera Projects to premiere in September 2014. As One is a coming of-age story that depicts the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world. It explores the topics surrounding gender identity, acceptance, and the inequities that members of the LGBTQ+ community face.

Kaminsky’s piece explores Hannah’s story through her two genders, with her biological, male body being represented as “Hannah before” and her body as a transgender woman being represented as “Hannah after”. Through various short scenes these two sides portray the experiences and feelings of Hannah before, during and following her transition, showing Hannah as she struggles to discover her true gender identity. As Oneis categorized as a contemporary chamber opera and features two singers portraying the titular role of Hannah, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone, accompanied by string quartet. Peabody Opera Outreach has reduced the instrumentation for keyboard alone with creative direction by Samuel Mungo.

The U.S premiere of As One, commissioned, presented and produced by the American Opera Projects in association with the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, received critical acclaim and is currently the most produced modern opera in America. The positive feedback received from critics and audiences alike has inspired the Peabody Institute to highlight and focus on this important topic and expand its audience through the Peabody Opera Outreach, in the hope to spread awareness on transgender issues and to give voice to those who may feel alone, isolated and lost in the process of discovering their true selves.

For booking or more information, contact Opera Outreach Coordinator Melanie Walker at

Hannah Before: TBA

Hannah After: TBA

Director: James Harp

Musical Director/Conductor: JoAnn Kulesza

Laura Kaminsky, Composer

Laura Kaminsky, “one of the top 35 female composers in classical music” (The Washington Post), frequently addresses issues including sustainability, war, and human rights in her work. “Full of fire as well as ice, (she writes) in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection. It is strong stuff.” (American Record Guide). With co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed she has created the most widely-produced contemporary opera in the U.S., As One (2014), Some Light Emerges (Houston Grand Opera 2017), and the forthcoming Today it Rains (Opera Parallèle/American Opera Projects 2019). Upcoming: A Piano Quintet for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt String Quartet; and with Reed Postville, inspired by the unprecedented and devastating immigration raid there in 2008, for a consortium led by Santa Fe and San Francisco Operas. Head of composition as the Conservatory of Music/SUNY Purchase, she is composer-in-residence at American Opera Projects. More

James Harp, Director

James Harp is well known in the Baltimore area as a pianist, organist, stage director, singer, composer, lecturer, writer and conductor. He began his musical career at age 7 as a church soloist, and has concertized in Italy, France, Greece, Israel, the Bahamas, and extensively throughout his native Southern United States. Among his more unusual musical experiences include singing “My Old Kentucky Home” as a soloist on National Television at the 1981 Kentucky Derby, coaching Lily Tomlin in arias from AIDA for an Emmy-nominated “Homicide” segment, and nearly drowning after falling backwards into the Sea of Galilee while conducting madrigals.

James Harp is the Artistic Director of Maryland Opera, the Mid-Atlantic’s newest opera company and arts organization, where he is building a comprehensive and innovative opera and opera education/outreach program to serve the entire state of Maryland. He is also heavily involved in pursuing and nurturing partnerships and collaborations with arts organizations both locally and nationally in order to sustain the art forms of opera and music for perpetuity. He is also a judge for the regional and district Metropolitan Opera auditions.

He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He was the Artistic Administrator of the Baltimore Opera Company beginning in 1989 and was the Chorus Master since 1993. Since 1983 he has served as organist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and since 1987 has been the Cantor (Organist/Choirmaster) for Baltimore’s historic St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, where he also serves as Artistic Director of the St. Cecilia Society Concert Series. He formerly served as Music Director of the Baltimore Men’s Chorus from 1989-1995 and was the accompanist for the Baltimore Symphony Chorus from 1982-1999. He is the Principal Accompanist and Chorus Master for Baltimore Concert Opera since spring of 2009. He also is a coach/accompanist with the Wagner Society of Washington, DC. He has been associated with the opera faculties at the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Maryland Opera Studio and will join the Morgan State University Music faculty in 2018 at an opera coach. In the 2017-18 academic year he was on the faculty at Towson University where he coached singers and directed a production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO.

Knowledgeable in many areas of music, he has lectured extensively on opera in many venues, including the Towson Arts Festival, the Maryland Opera Society, the Biblical Archaeology Society, and the Joy of Opera Series. He is on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Continuing Education where he lectures on the repertoire of the Lyric Opera Baltimore. Successful as a writer of operatic children’s programs, he and his work PUPPETS & PAGLIACCI were featured on a PBS documentary. His reworking and staging of Puccini's GIANNI SCHICCHI, changed from Florence, Italy in 1299 to Florence, Alabama, in 1929 and retitled THE TALE OF JOHNNIE S. KICKEY, has been well received and performed in several regional opera companies and universities. He has served on several national advisory boards as a consultant and advocate for arts agencies.

He made his LOB mainstage stage director debut in 2013 in TOSCA, receiving significant critical and audience appreciation, continued with an outstanding production of MADAMA BUTTERFLY in fall of 2014. As a stage director he has directed many operas for Artscape, Baltimore’s summer festival of the arts, including THE MEDIUM, TOO MANY SOPRANOS, SLOW DUSK, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. He has directed THE SORCERER, HMS PINAFORE, THE GONDOLIERS, IOLANTHE, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, and THE MIKADO with the Young Victorian Opera Company. He has also staged operas at Anne Arundel Community College, where his version of THE ELIXIR OF LOVE, transplanted to Tennessee during Prohibition, was well received, as well as his productions of THE MAGIC FLUTE, DON GIOVANNI, LA TRAVIATA and DIE FLEDERMAUS.

Sought after as an orchestral musician and accompanist, he has been featured as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in works ranging from Saint-Saens ORGAN SYMPHONY to Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. He has appeared as continuo (harpsichord/organ) soloist with many local orchestral and choral groups, where his informed and histrionic realizations of baroque figured bass have won acclaim. Accompanist to many local singers, many of whom feature his own compositions, he has also accompanied such artists as Elizabeth Futral, Stephen Costello, Patricia Racette, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Licia Albanese, Anna Moffo, Chris Merritt, Lucine Amara, and Paul Plishka. His appearance with Miss Futral and Mr. Costello was part of the noted Vocal Arts Society of Washington DC series and took place at the Kennedy Center.

An aficionado of gardening, theology, genealogy and all things Victorian, he lives in the Bolton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore with his three gregarious pugs, Vera, Minnie Lee and Otto.

JoAnn Kulesza, Musical Director, Peabody Opera

See Above