April 23, 2021

Opera Beat: Oscar Wilde production starring David Daniels

Would that I could hop on a plane Feb. 9-12 to see Opera Philadelphia’s production of “Oscar,” featuring opera star David Daniels as famous writer Wilde. A co-production and co-commission with Santa Fe Opera which premiered the new work in 2013 , the music is by composer Theodore Morrison and the libretto by Morrison and opera director John Cox. The opera focuses on Wilde’s trial and imprisonment with fellow poet and homosexual Walt Whitman acting as a Greek chorus of sorts. Cox and Morrison were inspired by Richard Ellman’s biography of Wilde, his letters, documents and quotes from his contemporaries. Oscar Wilde’s biological grandson, Merlin Holland also provided scholarly information on his famous forebear. (Oscar Wilde had two sons with wife Thelma Besant and has a male great-grandchild living in London.)

Counter tenor David Daniels, a former vocal student of composer Morrison’s, brings his world class voice to the role of Oscar Wilde. (As an interesting connection, the countertenor voice range is similar to a woman’s mezzo soprano voice. Writer Max Beerbohm, an acquaintance of Wilde’s, said that Oscar had a mezzo soprano singing range.) Reed Luplau dances the role of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, lending a visually lyrical quality to their relationship. Heidi Stober plays his loyal female friend, Ada Leverson. William Burden is cast as journalist and sexual roué Frank Harris who wrote a biography of Wilde.

Here is a fascinating brief interview with Oscar composer, Theodore Morrison:


Opera Philadelphia has a wonderful series of clips of music from the opera and interviews with the performers.


If any of you are lucky enough to catch this production in Philadelphia, please send me a brief review! For now, youtube will have to suffice for those of us not able to journey to Pennsylvania.

"Oscar" opera in Santa Fe


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Opera Beat: Oscar Wilde production starring David Daniels.

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