Turn and Burn (2020)

Opera in one act for 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, baritone, and bass-baritone, with electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, drum set, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double bass. 71 mins.

Libretto by Megan Cohen. Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera for HGOco’s “Song of Houston” initiative. Recipient of OPERA America Commissioning Grant for Female Composers.

Barrel racer in black and white

In Turn and Burn, small-town barrel racing champion Shayla Taylor and ambitious executive Jamie Hernandez aim for a big win at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When an accident threatens Shayla’s career-defining race, the women discover each other’s strength in adversity. Set in a colorful world of bucking broncs and carnival rides, composer Nell Shaw Cohen and librettist Megan Cohen’s original story informed by interviews with rodeo athletes offers a feminist perspective on contemporary rodeo culture.

Performance History

Workshop at Houston Grand Opera, Houston, TX, Geoffrey Loff, Conductor; 12/09/19.

World Premiere production originally scheduled for February 2021, postponed (due to COVID-19) to 2023 .

Woman Walking (2020)

Soprano and piano. 5 mins.

Commissioned by Laura Strickling for The 40@40 Project.

Lyrics by Megan Cohen.

Perusal Score

Score available for purchase. Please direct inquiries to Nell Shaw Cohen at nell@nellshawcohen.com.

Program Note

A portrait of a solitary woman and present-day flâneuse as she saunters on city streets, taking it all in and going nowhere in particular. Inspired in part by Rebecca Solnit’s cultural history of walking, Wanderlust.

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Performance History
  • Laura Strickling, soprano and Daniel Schlosberg, piano; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 3/2/22.

Fallen Star (2017/arr. 2020)

Baritone and piano. 6 1/2 mins.

Lyrics by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen.

Perusal Score

Score available for purchase. Please direct inquiries to Nell Shaw Cohen at nell@nellshawcohen.com.

Also available as part of NewMusicShelf Anthology of New Music: Trans & Nonbinary Voices, Vol. 1.

Program Note

Fallen Star was written in 2017 within the New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, an intensive laboratory for 36-hour music-theater collaborations, co-directed by Ben Krywosz and Roger Ames of Nautilus Music-Theater. Mashuq Mushtaq Deen and I created Fallen Star in response to a prompt from baritone Joshua Hinck to write a song with themes from Classical mythology and supporting roles for soprano and mezzo. In doing so, Deen also incorporated our shared love of the American West, and the transcendent night skies of Northern New Mexico, into his brilliant lyric. This was our first of several collaborations as composer and lyricist. I recently created this new arrangement of Fallen Star, adapting the characters of Venus and Callisto into a work for a solo performer, and hope it may reach new audiences in this form.

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Performance History

Nashua Pride Festival, Melina Jaharis, mezzo-soprano. Nashua Community Music School, Nashua, NH, 6/25/22.

New Dramatists, arrangement for three voices presented as part of music-theater workshop. Blake Friedman, Nicole Mitchell, and Camille Harris, vocalists, with Charity Wicks, piano. New York NY, 4/19/18.

New Dramatists, arrangement for three voices presented as part of public working session at culmination of the New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio. Joshua Hinck, Mallory Hawks, and Lucia Rodrique, vocalists, with Roger Ames, piano. New York NY, 02/03/17.

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (in development)

Opera in one act for soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, child soprano, SSA choir, and chamber ensemble.

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus book cover

A family holiday opera with a libretto by Edward Einhorn adapted from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum: a nontraditional Christmas fairy tale set in the magical world of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Currently in development.

Recording from Untitled Theater Company No. 61’s workshop reading of excerpts from the opera in piano-vocal score:

Continue reading “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (in development)”