Proving Up

Music by Missy Mazzoli, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, based on a short story by Karen Russell • February 17, 20, 23 & 25, 2024
Bitz Opera Factory

An American Dream as fragile as glass.

A family of Nebraskan homesteaders in the 1870s dreams of "proving up." They endeavor to obtain the deed to the land they've settled by fulfilling the requirements of the Homestead Act: five years of harvest, a sod house dwelling, and perhaps the most elusive element—a glass window.

With their eldest son incapacitated, Ma and Pa send their youngest living child Miles on a mission to share the valuable commodity with their distant neighbors who are expecting a visit from a government inspector. Miles’ journey brings him face to face with the remnants of a shattered past—the ghost of a neighboring farmer driven mad by the requirements of "proving up." The willowy figure knows all too well the cost of the American Dream, and the coveted window soon becomes a broken mirror reflecting great tragedy.

“A tense and creepy journey into the heart of Manifest Destiny's darkness” – The New York Times

"Harrowing...powerful... a true opera of our time" - The Washington Post

(photo credit: David Bachman)

(photo credit: David Bachman)

(photo credit: David Bachman)

(photo credit: David Bachman)

(Photo credit: David Bachman)

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