Silent Light

Opera. Silent Light. The words are graphically depicted in black over a rained upon window looking out at a field.

Silent Light is a new Opera based on the film Stellet Licht by Carlos Reygadas.

Set within a Mennonite community in northern Mexico, the opera follows a pious husband and father, Johan, who’s strongly held spiritual obligation to his marriage, family, and community is put to the test when he falls in love with another woman from his faith.  
Silent Light provides a glimpse of a society that is often misunderstood and simplified by people outside of the faith and lifestyle, presenting commonalities of human experience.
Music by Paola Prestini
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Stage Direction, Scenic and Costume Design by Thaddeus Strassberger
Lighting Design by Jason Hand
Foley and Sound Design by Sxip Shirey
Musical Direction by Christopher Rountree





Creative Team

Paola Prestini

Paola Prestini is “the imaginative composer” (NY Times), “Visionary-In-Chief” (Time Out NY), and Co-founder and Artistic director behind the Brooklyn venue National Sawdust. She was recently named an “Innovator” on the list of Top 30 Professionals of the Year by Musical America, the country’s oldest classical music magazine; she is on Brooklyn Magazine’s latest list of “influencers of Brooklyn culture…in perpetuity” alongside such household names as Chuck Schumer and Spike Lee; she is one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” (The Washington Post); and on the “Top 100 Composers in the World” list by NPR. Prestini’s music and works have been commissioned by and performed at The Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, BAM, the Barbican Centre, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Opera, The New York Philharmonic, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, among others. Since 1999 when she co-founded the multimedia production company VisionIntoArt while at the Juilliard School, (now relaunched as National Sawdust Projects), where she collaborated with poets, filmmakers, conservationists and astrophysicists in large-scale multimedia works (often in collaboration with Beth Morrison Projects). New works include The Amazon, her newest eco-cantata with filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu (collaborator on the acclaimed The Colorado); two new works with Royce Vavrek: Old Man and the Sea, a new opera-theater work with Robert Wilson and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, and Film Stills, a monodrama for mezzo Eve Gigliotti, director R.B. Schlather and Cindy Sherman; Four Quartets, a T.S. Eliot inspired piece for pianist Awadagin Pratt, Roomful of Teeth and a Far Cry; Sensoirum Ex, a new opera with poet Brenda Shaughnessy and Tomer Zvulun for Atlanta Opera and Beth Morrison Projects; and Edward Tulane with librettist Mark Campbell, commissioned by Minnesota Opera. She was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow, and studied with Peter Maxwell Davies, Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser at the Juilliard School.

Royce Vavrek

Royce Vavrek is a Canadian librettist and lyricist whose opera Angel’s Bone with composer Du Yun was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music. He is known for his many collaborations with composers including David T. Little (Dog Days, Am I Born, JFK), Missy Mazzoli (Song for the Uproar, Breaking the Waves, Proving Up), Ricky Ian Gordon (27, The House Without a Christmas Tree), and Paola Prestini (The Hubble Cantata). Royce is co-Artistic Director of The Coterie, an opera-theatre company founded with Tony-nominated soprano Lauren Worsham. He is an alum of Concordia University (Montreal), and American Lyric Theatre’s Composer Librettist Development Program. 

Thaddeus Strassberger

Thaddeus Strassberger won the European Opera Prize in 2005 for his Opera Ireland production of LA CENERENTOLA. He earned a degree in Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City; he received a Fulbright Fellowship to complete the Corso di Specializzazione per Scenografi Realizzatori at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2001.

For Bard Summercape, he has previously created five new productions: LES HUGUENOTS, DER FERNE KLANG, THE ORESTEIA, LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI and THE WRECKERS.  Recent notable productions include: I DUE FOSCARI (Covent Garden) and NABUCCO (LA Opera), both starring Plácido Domingo, and JFK,  for his production of SATYAGRAHA, in Ekaterinburg, Russia where he also directed THE PASSENGER (Russian premiere in co-production with The Bolshoi in Moscow) and Martinů’s A GREEK PASSION, in a new Russian translation. He has created productions for Den Norske Opera, Theater an der Wien, Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck, Washington National Opera, Philadelphia Opera, Minnesota Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Palau de las Arts, L'opera de Montreal among others. Upcoming productions include CARMEN (The Danish National Opera) and LA CLEMENZA DI TITO (LA Opera).

Jason Hand

Jason is a Toronto-based designer working in theatre and opera. He has built a reputation for developing innovative lighting designs for site-specific productions with Against the Grain and Tapestry New Opera. His passion is creating the lighting for large-scale musicals and operas, and for new works.

Jason has lit productions at several of Canada’s largest opera companies including the Canadian Opera Company & Vancouver Opera (Carmen), Edmonton Opera (The Tales of Hoffmann*). In 2014, made his American debut with Macbeth at the Minnesota Opera Company. He has worked with acclaimed directors Tim Albery (Imeneo*, Dido and Aeneas*, M’Dea Undone**), Paul Curran (The Rape of Lucretia*) and Tom Diamond (The Marriage of Figaro, Oksana G.)

His theatre designs include productions for Young People’s Theatre (Mary Poppins, Blue Planet, James and the Giant Peach, Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang**, Seussical), Tarragon Theatre (Hamlet, Enemy of the People, Peace River Country**, The Summoned**, Abyss**, Sequence, The Ugly One), Canadian Stage (This, The Arsonists, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale), the Stratford Festival (The Trespassers**), and the Shaw Festival (Arms and the Man), as well as Theatre Calgary, Drayton Entertainment, and the Soulpepper Theatre Company.

In 2015, Jason was invited to become the Resident Lighting Designer for Against the Grain Theatre, cementing a relationship with the company that extends from its first full-mounted production. For AtG, Jason has lit La Bohème**, Turn of the Screw*, Figaro’s Wedding**, Pelléas et Mélisande*, Death and Desire**, #UncleJohn**, AtG’s Messiah, A Little Too Cozy**, Ayre and Bound.

Jason is a regular guest instructor the National Theatre School of Canada and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

In 2011, Jason collaborated with director Joel Ivany and designer Camellia Koo to conceive a production of I Capuletti e i Montecchi that placed third in the biennial European Opera-Directing Prize.  He has been nominated five times for Dora Awards for Outstanding Lighting Design, and is a protégé recipient of the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.  He has won a Montreal English Theatre Award for his lighting of the NAC/Centaur co-production of The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.

Jason holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University. After completing his studies, Jason continued his education by working as an assistant and associate designer on over 40 major productions with noted international designers such as Thomas Hase, Max Keller, Peter van Praet & Robert Carsen, Robert Thomson, Bonnie Beecher, Michael Whitfield, and Alan Brodie.

Upcoming projects include The Merry Wives of Windsor (Stratford), Fences (Grand Theatre), Kopernikus, a reimagining the Claude Vivier’s chamber-opera in Toronto, and projects at the Charlottetown Festival, Factory Theatre, and St. John Theatre Company.

Sxip Shirey

Sxip Shirey is a composer/producer/curator/performer based in NYC. Current projects include a composition for playwright Lisa D'Amour for '"Ocean Filibuster", premiering at the American Repertory Theater Company (Cambridge, March 2020), and composition for choreographer Dan Safer for “The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party” at M.I.T. (October 2020). He is composer/music director for the internationally touring theater/circus arts production “LIMBO", produced by Melbourne based Strut N Fret Productions House, and London based Underbelly and South Bank Center. Shirey is a 2012 United States Artists Simon Fellowship winner. He has presented at TED and he composed music for Neil Gaiman's short film "Statuesque".

Christopher Rountree

Conductor, composer, and curator Christopher Rountree has distinguished himself as one of classical music’s most forward-thinking innovators in programming, conducting, and community building. Whether presenting his beloved chamber group wild Up in a museum bathroom or leading the country’s most renowned ensembles through new music’s most exciting works at the world’s greatest concert halls, Rountree is the linchpin between orchestral music and the future of performance.

Rountree founded the renegade ensemble wild Up in 2010. The group’s eccentric mix of new music, pop, and performance art quickly jumped from raucous DIY bar shows to being lauded as the vanguard for classical music by critics for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and public radio’s Performance Today. The success of wild Up has led Rountree to collaborations with Björk, John Adams, David Lang, Scott Walker, and many of the planet’s greatest orchestras and ensembles.


Daniel Okulitch - Johan

Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch is a leading interpreter of Mozart roles, most notably Don Giovanni, Almaviva, and Figaro, which he has performed at New York City Opera, Teatro Colón, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Warsaw, Vancouver Opera, and Dallas Opera. 
Okulitch also excels in creating leading roles in contemporary opera, including Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain at Teatro Real; the lead role of Mark Rutland in Nico Muhly’s Marnie at English National Opera; Seth Brundle in The Fly at Théâtre du Châtelet and Los Angeles Opera; Willy Wonka in The Golden Ticket at Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Atlanta Opera; and LBJ in JFK at Fort Worth Opera.
Okulitch first garnered national attention as Schaunard in the original cast of Baz Luhrmann's Tony-winning Broadway production of La bohème. His first solo recording, The New American Art Song, was released on GPR Records in 2011