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Taking Up Serpents


World Premiere for Washington National Opera

Part of the American Opera Initiative Festival

For their second operatic collaboration, “strikingly original” (The New York Times) composer Kamala Sankaram and award-winning librettist Jerre Dye reunite to create an engrossing tale exploring the controversial world of religious snake-handling. Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, makes her WNO debut and Alison Moritz returns after her success leading last year’s production of Proving Up.

In Taking Up Serpents, 25-year-old Kayla is the estranged daughter of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who is dangerously bitten by one of his own snakes. Kayla’s journey home forces her to confront her troubled upbringing. With a score showcasing Sankaram’s deft stylistic eclecticism and an original story inspired by Dye’s roots in the Deep South, Taking Up Serpents calls into question faith, family, and destiny, with shocking results.

Earlier Event: November 3
La Traviata
Later Event: February 8
Abduction from the Seraglio