The Fire Tower (2023)

An opera in one act for soprano, mezzo-soprano, and piano. 24 mins.

Black & white photograph of a fire tower on a mountain summit

Two intrepid women develop a bond of friendship during a trek deep into the wilderness. June, a first-time fire lookout, is radically reinventing herself following the unexpected death of her life partner. Ray is an experienced mule packer with a life-long love for the land, who struggles with hopelessness in the face of ecological crises.

Accompanied by pack mules, Ray guides June to her seasonal post at a rustic fire tower on a mountain summit in a non-motorized wilderness. During their journey the women are awed by vast landscapes, find moments of levity, and share their experiences with grief.

Set against a backdrop of climate crisis in the American West, The Fire Tower is an intimate portrait of two people in a pivotal moment searching for purpose.

Music & libretto by Nell Shaw Cohen.

Perusal Score

Available for workshop productions. Perusal score provided on request. Please direct inquiries to Nell Shaw Cohen at

Upcoming Performances

Friday, November 17 & Sunday, November 19, 2023
UTSA Lyric Theatre – The Fire Tower
The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
UTSA Lyric Theatre presents a fully staged workshop production of The Fire Tower on an evening of short one-act operas titled Epigrams.
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