JavaScript Menu Powered by Milonic


West Coast Premiere

Massachusetts, 1841. 13-year-old Emmeline is sent to work in the mills to help support her family, who have fallen on hard times. Though circumstance is not kind, the years pass and she returns to her family. The creation of the railroad brings new workers to her town. One young man falls in love with Emmeline, and takes her as his wife. But the wedding celebration reveals terrible complications. Tobias Picker’s unabashedly Romantic score sets Judith Rossner’s retelling of the Oedipus story from Jocasta’s point of view. “Emmeline promotes an old habit of music that three generations of nontonalists have been unable to break: that harmony of the spirit equals musical consonance. It is a pleasure to come across a new American opera that works this well.” –Bernard Holland, The New York Times

This production of Emmeline is sponsored by Sandra and Borue O’Brien

Arts & Entertainment
Around & About--Here and There--in Theater & Opera
By Ken Bullock

Monday June 07, 2010
Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma was founded by an operatic baritone 38 years ago, and has produced many excellent operas in the old schoolhouse on a knoll where its performing arts series and school classes are held. But the current show, Tobias Picker's EMMELINE, in its West Coast premiere, is something else again.

Based on a true story, fictionalized by Judith Rossner, it tells the tale of a 14 year-old girl in 19th century New England, sent to a garment factory, where she's seduced and sent home pregnant, and the doomed romance that follows 20 years of spinsterhood, in thrall to her family's sense of shame, when the past boomerangs back into the present. Picker's music is, in SF Classical Voice critic Jeff Kaliss's comment on opening night, reminiscent at times of Benjamin Britten's operas. Sublime and relentless, it carries along a story which could prove melodramatic, though it finally touches on a genuine modern sense of tragedy.

Yet there's humor, and wonderful little moments (Emmeline, smiling at the oppressive factory, when she sees her own face for the first time in a mirror--and years later smiling at a simple tune on harmonica, played by the young man she falls for). An unusually balaced opera, musically and dramatically.

Superb singing and acting by the principals, in particular the remarkable Carrie Hennessey, who runs the gamut of the years as Emmeline, a part Patricia Racette (now at SF Opera as Marguerite in a fine FAUST) originated at Santa Fe. Excellent small orchestra, conducted by Nina Shuman (Samuel Bill's arrangement) and chorus, many the young students of Cinnabar's own program, playing and singing the factory girls their own age.Excellent stage direction by Cinnabar artistic director Elly Lichtenstein. Picker has also composed an opera to Dreiser's AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY. This packs a similar social--and emotional--wallop.

Petaluma might seem a ways off--really not so far--and if you go,you won't forget a great, yet intimate musical and dramatic experience.

"Based on this splendid showcase by Cinnabar, together with the fine recording of the 1996 production by the Santa Fe Opera (with Patricia Racette in the title role), 'Emmeline' more than deserves the enthusiasm of opera-goers and performers, and should receive a permanent place in the repertoire. Catch it while you can."

"Aside from the soprano’s vocal power and clarity, Hennessey manifests a subtle theatrical skill as she mutates (with little time offstage) from a shy, naive daughter to a romantically vulnerable adolescent to a desperately passionate woman in early middle age."

"As in other elements of Cinnabar’s memorable production, strong singing is matched, across the ensemble, by acting above and beyond the level encountered at some opera companies whether big or small, here under the careful and caring stage direction of Elly Lichenstein."

Jeff Kaliss
San Francisco Classical Voice

"Soprano Carrie Hennessey is a delight in the role of Emmeline...the cast and live orchestra are fantastic... of particular note is the great performance by Cary Ann Rosko as Emmeline's Aunt Hannah, a no-nonsense, emotionally distant, Bible-thumping woman." Read more...

Yovanna Bieberich
Petaluma Argus Courier

Preview by Jeff Kaliss

"It’s a story of unknowing maternal incest in mid-19th-century Maine, but composer Tobias Picker thinks it will be right at home in Petaluma’s Cinnabar Performing Arts Theater, and he’ll be there next week during dress rehearsals to help parent the West Coast premiere of his creation."

Picker said he would be “excited to see what Elly [Lichenstein, Cinnabar’s executive director and stage director] has done with the production [of Emmeline]. I’ve heard such good things about her and Cinnabar for years; it’s a very famous place, actually. ... And less is more, when it comes to opera-house size.” Read more...

  A nice item by Tamara Straus for the West Coast premiere in the May 27, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle / Ovation section / Arts & Ends column. Read the article...
by Tobias Picker
May 28 - June 12, 2010
May 2010
Sold Out
June 2010

Ticket Prices
Single Tickets: Presale $35 General
$32 Senior & Student
Door $38/35.
Subscription: save 20%


Or call the Box Office at 707.763.8920

May 29 CINNALOUNGE Free w/$500+ membership

June 9 TEEN NIGHT Audience members under 20 receive a free soda and cookie, plus the reduced ticket price of $20.

"One of the best stage experiences of the year..." David Templeton's KRCB Second Row Center review of "La Boheme."

Sacramento Bee Sunday, May 23, 2010
Natomas singer rebuilds her opera career with 'Emmeline' - Sacramento Living -


Emmeline on facebook

More pictures from Emmeline are posted here. They can be enlarged by clicking on any picture.

"Cinnabar Theater ...has once again raised the musical and theatrical bar in their terrific production of Tobias Picker’s 1996 opera 'Emmeline' ... there is not an awkward or false moment in this elegantly crafted production. Carrie Hennessey in the title role is not only a consummate singer but a splendid actress. Seldom have I seen such an intensely believable operatic actress in such an intimate and personal setting. When a musical artist’s acting surpasses their exceptional vocal performance, you have nothing short of a stunning experience." Read More...

Richard Riccardi
Classical Sonoma

"In overall scope and achievement, Cinnabar’s presentation of 'Emmeline' makes for a thrilling experience not to be missed." Read more...

Suzanne and Greg Angeo


Dave Pokorny interviews Carrie Hennerssey, star of Emmeline. We also see a rehearsal at Cinnabar Theater of Carrie and the girls chorus in the mill.


Double-click the image for a larger view, and also to see the final act.

From YouTube:
"Emmeline" an opera in two acts by Tobias Picker. Directed by Francesca Zambello. Picker's first opera, commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera company and premiered in 1996. Based on the book Emmeline by Judith Rossner with a libretto by JD McClatchey, it is the story of a 19th century Maine woman who has an illegitimate son who is taken away from her just after birth and raised by others; twenty years later she unwittingly marries him and, when the secret is discovered, she is abandoned by her son and ostracized in her town until death. View Patricia Racette as Emmeline in this excerpt from a PBS telecast of the Santa Fe Opera. Click the arrow to listen and view. Be sure your speakers are turned on.

  Click the arrow in the picture below for a promo video:


San Francisco Chronicle / Ovation - Arts & Ends By Tamara Staus Thursday, May 27, 2010

Few recent modern American operas have received the kind of unanimous critical praise that Tobias Picker's "Emmeline" did when it premiered at the Santa Fe Opera in 1996 and followed with a run at the New York City Opera. Almost every major opera critic gushed over Picker's lush, romantic score and its marriage to the 19th century tale of accidental incest written by poet J.D. McClatchy (and based on Judith Rosner's novel).

Wrote Billboard's Heidi Waleson: "Have you ever heard of a contemporary opera where the audience stands up and cheers when the composer takes his bow? That's what happened at the Santa Fe Opera this summer after the final performance of 'Emmeline' by composer Tobias Picker. ... It boasts lovely writing for voice; a poetic libretto; streamlined, dramatic pacing; vivid orchestration; and a title role that any soprano would kill for. ... This work should make it to many more opera houses."

This weekend "Emmeline" will have its West Coast premiere at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma and run through June 11. Picker is in Sonoma for the opening weekend and has been working with Cinnabar Musical Director Nina Shuman on final rehearsals. Sacramento soprano Carrie Hennessey will star as Emmeline.

Also online, once there scroll down to "Opera Pick"



Counting visits to