Rutgers Presbyterian Church presents
Heartbeat Opera's


in a semi-staged concert version

Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Original libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner & Georg Friedrich Sonnleithner
Adapted & Directed by Ethan Heard
Arranged & Music Directed by Daniel Schlosberg
New English Dialogue Co-Written by Marcus Scott & Ethan Heard
Featuring the Original Cast

A black activist is wrongfully incarcerated. His wife, Leah, disguises herself to infiltrate the system and free him. But when injustice reigns, one woman's grit may not be enough to save her love. Featuring the voices of imprisoned people, this daring adaptation pits corruption against courage, hate against hope.


Rutgers Presbyterian Church
236 W. 73rd St
(btwn Broadway & West End Ave.)

November 28 & 29, 2018

90 minutes without intermission
Talkbacks following both performances

FIDELIO premiered at Baruch Performing Arts Center in May of 2018. See more of the original production here.



Roc // Derrell Acon
Marcy // Malorie Casimir
Stan // Nelson Ebo
Leah/Lee // Kelly Griffin
Pizarro // Daniel Klein

Also featuring the voices of more than 100 incarcerated singers and 70 volunteers from six prison choirs:

Oakdale Community Choir, KUJI Men’s Chorus, UBUNTU Men’s Chorus, HOPE Thru Harmony Women’s Choir, East Hill Singers, and Voices of Hope


Stage Direction // Ethan Heard
Music Direction // Daniel Schlosberg
Movement Direction // Emma Crane Jaster
Costume Designer // Valérie Thérèse Bart
Lighting Designer // Erin Earle Fleming
Sound Designer // Kate Marvin
Projections Designer // Paul Lieber
Translator // Nick Betson
Carceral Expert // Michelle Jones
Stage Manager // Richard Sommerfield
Production Manager // Dmitri Barcomi
Assistant Directors // Jillian Carucci & Nico Krell


Meet the Team

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Director, Adaptor, Co-Book Writer

Ethan Heard directs plays, musicals, and operas. As Founding Co-Artistic Director of Heartbeat Opera, he has directed Dido and Aeneas, Kafka-Fragments, The Seven Deadly Sins, and the drag extravaganzas Miss Handel and The Fairy Queen. Other recent opera includes the world premieres of Orth and Campbell’s Empty the House (Curtis Institute of Music) and Cady, Siegel and Welch’s Sisyphus (Experiments in Opera); Erismena and L’Orfeo (Yale Baroque Opera Project), and L’incoronazione di Poppea (Princeton University). Recent musical theater includes Little Shop of Horrors, Bells Are Ringing, and A Little Night Music (Berkshire Theatre Group), the world premiere of Campbell and Michelson’s The Other Room (Inner Voices), Michelson's Song of Song of Songs (Judson), Merrily We Roll Along (Yale Dramat), Sunday in the Park with George (Yale School of Drama), and Mel Brooks’ The Producers (Princeton). Plays include: Lottie in the Late Afternoon and Julius Caesar (YSD), The Cat and the Canary (BTG), The Gay Ivy (Dixon Place), Iphigenia and Other Daughters and Proof (Santa Fe Theater Festival), Pullman WA and in a word (Williamstown Workshop). While earning his MFA at YSD, Ethan served as Artistic Director of Yale Cabaret, where he co-created Basement Hades and Trannequin and began the tradition of Yale School of Drag. He is Resident Director of Jay Chou's The Secret, China's first jukebox musical, and he is currently on faculty at Yale School of Drama, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and Princeton University. ethanheard.com

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Music Director & New Arrangement

The music of composer and pianist Daniel Schlosberg has been performed by the the Dover Quartet, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Amphion Quartet, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Antico Moderno, and Lorelei Ensemble, at such venues as Carnegie Hall (New York), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), St. John’s Cathedral (Hong Kong), and Melbourne Recital Centre (Melbourne). Recent work includes the score for a music-theatrical adaptation of Lorca’s Once Five Years Pass at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and music direction of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Yale Repertory Theatre, where he premiered a score by David Lang. He cofounded the composer/performer ensemble INVISIBLE ANATOMY, which debuted last spring with concerts in New York City and at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. Schlosberg received a 2014 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s from the Yale School of Music. His work has been described as “witty” by the Wall Street Journal.


Marcus Scott

Co-Book Writer

Marcus Scott is a playwright, musical theater writer and journalist. Plays include: Tumbleweed (finalist for the 2017/2018 Humanitas Play LA Workshop, Playwrights Foundation's 2017 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the 2017 Austin Playhouse Festival of New American Plays; semi-finalist for the 2017/2018 New Dramatists Princess Grace Fellowship Award), Cherry Bomb (recipient of Drama League’s 2017 First Stage Artist In Residence; 2017 finalist for the Yale Institute for Music Theatre), Malaise (2017 DUAF at Cherry Lane Theater), Blood Orange (2018 Downtown Urban Arts Festival at Theater 80 St. Marks), among others.



Derrell Acon


Bass-baritone Derrell Acon is a uniquely accomplished performer whose repertoire ranges from the comic to the tragic and even the sensual. In 2017, Mr. Acon performed the roles of Jake and Jim in NY Harlem Productions' tour of Porgy and Bess, making his debuts at Semperoper Dresden, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsches Theater München, Kölner Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Haifa Congress Center, Tel-Aviv Charles Bronfman Hall, and Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari. In 2018, he debuts as Escamillo in Opera Ithaca's Carmen and as Rocco in Heartbeat Opera's Fidelio.


Malorie Casimir


Malorie Casimir, soprano, was recently seen singing George Crumb’s The Winds of Destiny with Jonathan Haas and the percussion ensembles at the Aspen Music Festival, NYU and Juilliard precollege. Recent performances also include the Boy in the table reading of Rufus Wainwright’s new opera, Hadrian with the Aspen Music Festival and Despina in Mannes Opera’s production of Cosi fan tutte. 
Casimir is a proud native of Brooklyn, NY and holds degrees from The Hartt School in Connecticut and Mannes School of Music in New York.


Nelson Ebo


Angolan tenor Nelson Ebo has won multiple awards from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Giulio Gari Foundation, New Jersey State Opera, and Opera Ebony. Rising from singing in the chorus at his church in Luanda, Nelson has sung for the King of Spain, Maestro Placido Domingo, and has studied at the Academy of Vocal Arts. Nelson's roles have included Knight Antonius Bloc in the International Brazilian Opera company's contemporary opera "The Seventh Seal", Pollione in Bellini's Norma in both Treviso and Ferrara, Italy, and both Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and the tenor soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the Utah Festival Opera Company."


Kelly Griffin


Soprano, Kelly Griffin, has been described as “bringing her voice of considerable power and warmth to every role she embodies”. She recently sang her first concert performance of the title role in Verdi's Aida, joined New Amsterdam Opera as Leonora in Verdi's La Forza del Destino, and revisited the great scena of Verdi's Lady Macbeth as part of Salt Marsh Opera's Opera Palooza. Kelly has been featured in concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Miami Symphony Orchestra, and Danbury Symphony Orchestra. This season, in addition to her debut with Heartbeat Opera, Kelly will join Opera in the Heights as Amelia in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera.


Daniel Klein


Imaginative, adventurous, and occasionally downright terrifying, audiences have found in Bass-Baritone, Daniel Klein an exciting example of versatility. Recent appearances include Marcello in La Boheme with Long Island Opera; Fra Melitone in La Forza del Destino with New Amsterdam Opera; Hyde in the New York Premier of Carlisle Floyd’s The Prince of Players with the Little Opera Theater of New York and the bass soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Handel's Messiah with Garden State Symphony.  Other recent credits include the title role Frank London’s new opera Hatuey: A Memory of Fire at the Sundance Theater Lab, Don Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia of which the New York Times said he was ‘an unusually dark and steely Bartolo.’  He joined the Altamura/Roundtop Festival as Geronimo in Il Matrimonio Segreto, and returned to Opera Company of Middlebury as Ping in Turandot where he has performed Marcello in La bohème, Rambaldo in La rondine and Mustafà in The Italian Girl in Algiers (L’Italiana in Algeri),  Monterone in Annapolis Opera's Rigoletto,  Tonio in Opera Providence's Pagliacci, and as the Recluse in Frank London’s Talmudic-Klezmer Oratorio A night in the Old Marketplace in Sao Paulo, Brazil.




Movement Director

Emma is an internationally-trained director, choreographer, and teaching artist based in New York. She has choreographed operas for Juilliard SVA, Loft Opera, Opera Lafayette, and Heartbeat Opera, with whom she loves being an Associate Artist. Her work has brought her to India, Italy, Poland, Taiwan, and France, choreographing for actors, singers, dancers, students, and puppets. She performed from childhood with her mime father, Mark Jaster and attended the Lecoq school for physical theatre in Paris. She believes in the power of art to teach us to listen better and love more. She is the founder of an international collective of artist mothers whose work can be found under #mamaisamaker. www.emmajaster.com @notapapercrane


Valérie Thérèse Bart

Costume Designer

Selected credits include: Rocking Horse Winner/Vinkensport (Opera Saratoga), You are Here (Goodspeed), Listen, Wilhelmina! (costumes/sets, Wolf Trap), Rigoletto (Minnesota Opera), The Invisible Hand (Cleveland Play House); The Great Leap (Denver Center / Seattle Rep), Too Heavy for Your Pocket (Roundabout), Vanity Fair (Pearl Theatre), Butterfly (Heartbeat Opera), The Servant of Two Masters (TFANA, Seattle Rep, Guthrie, Arts Emerson, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Yale Rep), Twelfth Night and What you Will (Bedlam, Central Square Theatre), Macbeth (Acting Company), Tina Packer’s Women of Will (costumes/sets, natl/intl tour), She, After (costumes/sets, Urban Arias), Pop! (sets, Yale Rep). M.F.A. Yale University School of Drama. valeriebart.com


Erin Earle Fleming

Lighting Designer

Erin Earle Fleming is excited to join the Heartbeat Team. Selected credits include: Kiss (Yale Rep); Sweat, If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka, Blood Wedding, and Macbeth (Yale School of Drama); Xander Xyst, Dragon:1 (ArsNova ANT Fest); Three Sisters (Columbia); The Feels...(kms), Re:Union, (Yale Cabaret); Les Enfants Terribles (Butler Opera Center); Bus Stop, Love and Information (Mary Moody Northern Theatre); Pinocchio (ZACH Theatre); Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Doctuh Mistuh). BA: St. Edward’s University, MFA: Yale School of Drama. www.erinearlefleming.com

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Kate Marvin

Sound Designer

Recent: Indecent (Guthrie Theater), Daybreak (Pan Asian Rep), Middletown (The New School), [Porto] (Women's Project / Bushwick Starr), Babette's Feast, Sotto Voce (Portland Stage),  Crossing Delancey, Ugly Lies the Bone (Alliance Theatre), Grounded (Westport Country Playhouse), Richard III, Measure for Measure (Trinity Shakespeare Festival), Somebody's Daughter (Second Stage Uptown), Happy Days (TFANA / Yale Repertory Theatre),  Now is the Time (Little Lord),  The Tempest, Uncle Vanya, Second Language, POZHAR or Time Machine Ignition, The Magic Flute: A Sound Op-Era (Target Margin). Kate is an associate artist with Target Margin and Little Lord. MFA: Yale School of Drama www.katemarvinsound.com

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Nick Betson


Nick Betson is excited to be involved in his fourth season with Heartbeat Opera. He is also a frequent collaborator on Cantata Profana and Yangtze Repertory Theatre productions. His other translations from German include scholarly articles on Haydn and Ravel. In addition to his work in the theater, he has also taught courses in music theory and music history at Yale College and Mannes College of Music and researches the symphonies of Anton Bruckner.


Richard Sommerfield

Stage Manager

Richard Sommerfield (Stage Manager) is currently a student at Pace University studying Stage Management. Richard has had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of productions, including dance, plays, musicals, devised theatre and events.  Recent work in the city includes Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene), Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Cherry Lane Theatre), Michael John’s Dead Babies with Michael John LaChiusa, Dead Brains (Planet Connections Theatre Festival). 

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Dmitri Barcomi

Production Manager

Dmitri Barcomi is a transdisciplinary theater artist and musician from NYC who splits his time between working as a director and in theater production and design. Dmitri has worked throughout the city including at La Mama, The New Victory, Mabou Mines, New Ohio Theater, as well as internationally. Recent projects: COWBOYSCOWGIRLS (Jack), Church of the Alien Love Child (BRIC), Jet of Blood (Edinburgh Fringe), Bird of Pray (The Brick). Education: BA, The New School, Lincoln Center Directors Lab member & Directors Lab North alum. Dmitri is a 2018-2019 LABA Fellow at the 14 St Y and the current artist-in-residence at Playmachine Theater Lab. mxbarcomi.com


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Bernard E. Harcourt

Bernard E. Harcourt is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, where he teaches criminal law and critical theory. At Columbia University, he is also the Executive Director of the Eric H. Holder Initiative for Civil and Political Rights and the founding director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. He is the author most recently of The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens (Basic Books, 2018).

A passionate advocate for justice, Bernard Harcourt started his legal career representing death row inmates working with Bryan Stevenson at what is now the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. He lived and worked in Montgomery for several years and still today continues to represent pro bono inmates sentenced to death and life imprisonment without parole. He recently resolved the case of death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm in Alabama. He also served on human rights missions to South Africa and Guatemala, and actively challenged the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban, representing pro bono a Syrian medical resident excluded under the executive order, as well as a Columbia SIPA student

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Dawn McDonald

Dawn McDonald is a Senior Facilitator and Program Advisor for Rehabilitation Through The Arts (RTA.) She began teaching in prison in 2008 while studying Educational Theatre in grad school at NYU and since that time has developed and facilitated nine workshops behind bars, including a pilot program at Rikers Island in 2017. As an actor, Dawn has performed alongside RTA participants at several facilities in their annual full-length productions. As Program Advisor, she mentors new facilitators, advises on curriculum development and interviews applicants interested in teaching with RTA. Beyond prison, Dawn’s work as a Teaching Artist has taken her to NYC schools, homeless shelters, senior centers and the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Africa.


Johnny Perez

Johnny Perez is the Director of U.S. Prison Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He adds value, insight, and leadership to existing campaign efforts working to end the torture of solitary confinement, while building the capacity of faith leaders and directly impacted communities to engage in education and advocacy in the United States.

Drawing on the wisdom of thirteen years of direct involvement with the criminal justice system, Johnny also works to change unjust policies and practices in the criminal justice system through his participation as a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee and as member of the NY Advisory Committee to The US Civil Rights Commission. Johnny is also sits the board of directors of both Space on Ryder Farm and the Juvenile Law Center.


Pastor Isaac Scott

Pastor Isaac Scott is a formerly incarcerated artist and activist. As the Program Director for The Confined Arts, he is a leader in promoting justice reform and prison abolition through the transformative power of the arts. Since returning to society, he’s combined fine art and graphic design with his passion for the arts to accomplish goals that could not have been achieved without such a socially valued means of expression. Isaac’s passion for equal human rights runs deep as a result of being directly affected by the criminal justice system and its disenfranchising nature.

Today, Isaac is a 2018 Change Agent Award recipient from the School of General Studies at Columbia University, where he currently studies film and media as a Justice in Education Scholar. Pastor Scott is also the Arts and Communications Coordinator at the Center for Justice at Columbia University. His work includes research, public speaking, and managing the center’s public outreach. Isaac is studying filmmaking to pursue his ambitions for producing content that honestly represents the true lived narratives of stigmatized people. He believes that art, in every form, is effective in changing perceptions and conquering stigma. Through lived experience, Isaac personally understands the need for realistic representations of individuals like himself, who’ve been convicted of a crime in the past. Isaac also understands the healing power of the arts; it’s influential enough to transform both the artist and the audience. He is now in a position to assist those artists following behind him and to use his creativity in many ways to continue educating and promoting change.

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Robert Williams

Robert Williams, former gang member and leader, is the Executive President of the grassroots “I Am The Peacemakers” Organization. He is also a member of the Community Public Safety Partnership (CPSP) and words closely with the Boys’ & Girls’ Club in the Bronx, mentoring the youth. He is also an Elder at the Church of Gethsemane in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Robert works with the re-entry program for former inmates at the church. He works very closely with Senior Citizens Programs, sponsoring Peace Community Meals, leading conversations between community members and law enforcement officials concerning public safety and gang prevention. Rob is currently engaged in raising funds to send two high school seniors or graduates to a leadership training this summer at the Presbyterian Conference Center at Holmes, New York.