The Kennedy Center

The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists

Washington National Opera: American Opera Initiative: New Hour-Long Opera: The Dictator's Wife

Friday, January 13, 2017 - Sunday, January 15, 2017

JFK Centennial Celebration Washington National Opera

In the world premiere of this bitingly satirical work, the wife of a once-powerful dictator bemoans how she must now answer for the atrocities committed by her husband, who seems to be cowering in the bathroom as the country falls apart.

Search for Current Events



In this bitingly satirical work, the glamorous yet tormented wife of a once-powerful dictator bemoans that she is now having to answer for all of the terrible atrocities committed by her husband, who has "taken to cowering in the bathroom" as the country falls apart. Hailed as "an important new artistic voice" (The New York Times), young American composer-on-the-rise Mohammed Fairouz and prominent Pakistani writer/librettist Mohammed Hanif--whose collaborative opera Bhutto has just been selected for a world premiere at Pittsburgh Opera--will develop this new production based on Hanif's critically acclaimed play of the same title. The Dictator's Wife will be conducted by Nicole Paiement (WNO's The Little Prince), directed by Ethan McSweeny, and features costume designs by Lynly A. Saunders and lighting designs by A.J. Guban.

First Lady: Allegra De Vita
Ms. Holy: Ariana Wehr
ADC: Hunter Enoch
I Will Sell My Children Mom: Leah Hawkins
Give-Me-Cheap-Petrol Protestor: Rexford Tester
Death Row Dad: Timothy J. Bruno

Performance Timing: 1 hour, with no intermission.

Following both performances:
Friday evening, Jan. 13
Sunday matinee, Jan. 15
Don't miss your opportunity to engage directly with our artists and share your thoughts on the experience you just had! Here's your chance to ask questions and get the inside scoop on the production from members of the cast and creative team.
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.

"WNO's American Opera Initiative is an exciting and positive leap forward in the trajectory of American opera: keeping it fresh, energized, bold, and current."
--Jake Heggie, composer and former American Opera Initiative advisor
WNO's acclaimed commissioning program for contemporary American opera enters its fifth exciting season, this time with four world premieres presented across a single weekend (The Dictator's Wife hour-long opera and Three New 20-Minute Operas). Our Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists and other talented performers will be among the casts.

Says the Washington Post: "Encouraging new voices and new work is a good thing… and [the American Opera Initiative] is getting more music heard. Let's applaud it--and attend it!" This season, the American Opera Initiative and Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program welcome new program director Robert Ainsley and three distinguished advisors including composer John Musto (Later the Same Evening, The Inspector), librettist Gene Scheer (Three Decembers, WNO's Moby-Dick), and conductor Steven Osgood (General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera Company).