A shadow puppet opera dictating the history of Colorado's gray wolves

by Ben Morris

This piece addresses the history of gray wolves in Colorado and their relationship with people and domesticated animals. In 2020, Colorado voters passed a controversial proposition to reintroduce wolves to the state, raising questions about its potential impact on regional ecology and livestock. Our story, oriented toward family audiences, follows two reintroduced wolves, Luna (the mother, soprano) and Sky (young male cub, mezzo-soprano). Sky struggles to adjust to living in Colorado but eventually learns to adapt to her new world. With a premiere scheduled for summer 2023 through Art Song Colorado, this workshop will allow us time to develop the piece before presenting a more polished version to larger audiences.

This work was made possible through the B2 Creative Residency Program. Learn more here.


About the Artists

Ben Morris

Ben Morris is a composer whose music tells unconventional stories and crosses genre boundaries. His projects include operas, theater and film scores, and intermedia works. He recently lived in Oslo, Norway on a Fulbright Grant, composing a multimedia big band work inspired by his Norwegian heritage. His accolades include attending the Aspen Music Festival, performing at the Newport Jazz Festival, studying traditional music in Korea, and receiving ASCAP Morton Gould and Herb Alpert Awards and a commission from the Washington National Opera. Morris graduated from Rice University and University of Miami and is completing his DMA at CU Boulder.

Katy Williams

Katy Williams is a theatrical makeup and puppet designer and teaching artist based in Denver. She began designing and fabricating puppets the summer of 2013 for her senior thesis project, The Myth of Pegasus. Katy acted and created puppets for a new play, Lobstermen in Love, by Emily Golden, at Portland Stage. Katy worked at the University of Denver as a Technical Assistant for two years and was responsible for leading teams of peers to build set, prop pieces, and paint scenery. Most recently, Katy completed a yearlong internship at Portland Stage, working in the Education and Theater for Kids department.

Melanie Bindon

A storyteller at heart, Melanie Bindon explores non-linear visual narratives in the borderland where painting merges with other fields. Created through a layering process, she uses traditional hands-on materials in combination with photography and digital painting. Through a cathartic recreation of ambiguous reveries, her work connects memories to imaginative contexts and depicts ways that ancient mythologies influence contemporary experiences. By leaving a hole in each visual story, she intends for the unexpected to be released through interpretation. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and the Denver Center for Visual Arts.

Laura Fuentes

Laura Fuentes is a Baltimore-area librettist and playwright. She has been commissioned by the Washington National Opera as part of its 2020-2021 American Opera Initiative cohort, working with composer Ben Morris. Laura was a 2019 Playwright Fellow with Cohesion Theater, and a grantee of the College Light Opera Company's 2018 New Works Program. She has been a commissioned playwright with Interrobang Theatre, and her work has been featured in Avant Bard Theatre's Scripts in Play Festival and the Kennedy Center's Page to Stage Festival. Laura holds a BA from the College of William and Mary, an MM from Towson University, and a MA from Johns Hopkins University.

Sohap Ensemble

Sohap Ensemble is a soprano-cello duo that collaborates with artists and composers on commissions, recordings, and intimate, out-of-the-box musical experiences. Made up of soprano Sabina Balsamo and cellist Chas Barnard, Sohap strives to connect with audiences through the performance of new and underrepresented chamber music in concert and educational outreach settings.

Art Song Colorado

Art Song Colorado introduces new audiences to classical song. Their innovative performances by Colorado artists include visual art, super-titles and storytelling. Art Song Coloradoʼs online videos capture the feeling of live performance in bite-sized experiences that are a perfect introduction for audiences. Join Art Song Colorado for “Musical Storytelling in a timeless style.”