Music by Paula M. Kimper
Libretto by Wende Persons
Based on the novel by Isabel Miller

About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


“A warm welcome to Patience & Sarah. …a rare and moving opera about women in love.” –New York Magazine

Set in Connecticut in the winter of 1816, Patience & Sarah tells the powerful story of two young women who meet, fall in love, and resolve to devote their lives to each other. The opera is closely based on Isabel Miller’s 1969 novel, which in turn was inspired by the true story of two 19th-century women, the painter Mary Ann Willson and her companion Miss Brundage. Today Mary Ann Willson is recognized as an outstanding primitive artist; her paintings may be seen in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

Patience & Sarah is an opera in Two Acts composed for 8 singers (soprano (2), mezzo (2), contralto, tenor(2), bass) and 14 piece chamber orchestra. Additional info

Download Libretto
Patience Sarah libretto

Commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects


kimperPaula Kimper
Paula Kimper, b. 1956, is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and has been active in New York City for over 30 years as a composer of opera, theater, dance, film and song. Her entire catalogue of scores was recently acquired by the Loeb Music Library of Harvard University. Ms. Kimper’s first opera, Patience & Sarah, premiered in Lincoln Center Festival ’98. The Captivation of Eunice Williams, commissioned by the PVMA of Deerfield, MA, premiered in July 2004, and was most recently performed in Skopje, Macedonia. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, based on Thornton Wilder’s novel, was seen at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA in 2007. Ms. Kimper’s latest opera TRUTH, An American Opera about Sojourner Truth, premiered in February 2012 at the Academy of Music in Northampton, MA, and is now touring in a chamber version for five singers and seven-piece orchestra conducted by the composer. She has received commissions from The Phoenix Concerts, Old Deerfield Productions, Amy Pivar Dances, Richard Daniels, Downtown Music Productions, The Walt Whitman Project, American Opera Projects, Opera America, and others. The composer is grateful for the generous support of American Music Center, International Music and Art Foundation, Lincoln Center Festival, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet the Composer and Theatre Communications Group. Kimper is currently a Columbia University Community Scholar (2013-2016)

Wende PersonsWende Persons
In addition to her work as a librettist for Patience & Sarah, Wende Persons is a marketing consultant specializing in new media outreach for classical music. She is currently working with the leading online classical music retailer, 21C Media Group, and as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing for the Performing Arts at NYU's Steinhardt School. She also has done consulting work for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, American Public Media's NEA-funded Classical Music Initiative, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and she co-produced the debut CDs and website for Rob Kapilow's "What Makes It Great?" series for Artemis Records/Vanguard Classics. Previously, she was Website Manager for WXQR, the classical station of The New York Times, Senior Director of Marketing for Universal Classics Group (Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and Philips Classics), Director of Promotion and Product Management for Deutsche Grammophon, Program Director and producer for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, and Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Pittsburgh Opera. Wende Persons also has worked at Wolf Trap, the Eastman School of Music, and as the Eastman Philharmonia's Orchestra Manager at the Heidelberg Castle Festival in Germany. She is on the Performing Arts Administration Faculty at NYU Steinhardt.

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July 27, 2017 - The New Yorker
Industry profile: "The Decline of Opera Queens and the Rise of Gay Opera"

June 20, 2017 - WFMT (Chicago)
Industry profile: "7 American Operas That Put LGBTQ Issues Center Stage"

June 1, 2017 - OPERAWIRE
Industry profile: "Pride Month 2017: A Look At The LGBT Operas In History"

Opera Review: “’Florencia en el Amazonas,’ ‘Patience & Sarah’ and ‘Le Comte Ory’ Reviews”

July 21, 2016GAY CITY NEWS
Opera Review: “Exploring the Wilderness in Search of Love”

Opera Review: “PATIENCE & SARAH Shines Line on Women in Love in 19th-Century New England”

Jun. 28, 2016FRONT ROW CENTER (New York)
Opera Review: “Patience & Sarah, the opera”

Jun. 25, 2016PARTERRE (New York)
Opera Review: “imagined possibilities”

Opera Profile: “Patience & Sarah, an Opera Revival for LGBT Pride Week”

June 15, 2016AFTER ELLEN
Opera Profile: “A lesbian love story is at the heart of the opera ‘Patience and Sarah’”

June 3, 2016CURVE
Opera Profile: “Librettist Wende Persons Shares The Story Of The Opera Patience And Sarah (Part 2)”

May 12, 2016CURVE
Opera Profile: “Librettist Wende Persons Shares The Story Of The Opera Patience And Sarah (Part 1)”

June 14, 2011 - INDIEOPERA.COM
Opera profile: "Interview with Paula Kimper"

July 26, 2000 - WINDY CITY TIMES (Chicago)
Opera review: PATIENCE & SARAH, Chicago Premiere

September 1, 1998 - AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
Opera review: PATIENCE & SARAH, World Premiere, 1998 Lincoln Center Festival

July 27, 1998 - NEW YORK MAGAZINE
Opera review: PATIENCE & SARAH, World Premiere, 1998 Lincoln Center Festival

July 1998 - PARTERRE.COM
Opera review: PATIENCE & SARAH, World Premiere, 1998 Lincoln Center Festival

Opera review: PATIENCE & SARAH, World Premiere, 1998 Lincoln Center Festival

July 10, 1998 - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Opera review: PATIENCE & SARAH, World Premiere, 1998 Lincoln Center Festival

July 2, 1996 - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Opera workshop review: PATIENCE & SARAH

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July 8, 1998
Lincoln Center Festival 1998
John Jay College Theater, New York, NY
Presented by Lincoln Center Festival and AOP
Lori Phillips (Patience White), Elaine Valby (Sarah Dowling), Amy Ellen Anderson (Martha White) , John G. Bellemer (Edward White), Laure Meloy (Rachel Dowling), Janet Ellis (Ma Dowling), LeRoy Lehr (Pa Dowling), and Barton Green (Parson Daniel Peel). Steven R. Osgood, conductor.


June 23-24, 2016
Staged concert performance
Presented by Paula Kimper Ensemble
The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, New York, NY

June 26, 2015
Act 2 in concert (revised version)
The LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), New York, NY
Presented by Paula Kimper Ensemble

June 15, 2007
Opera in concert
First Unitarian Church of Oakland
685 14th Street, Oakland, CA
Presented by the First Unitarian Church of Oakland

August 5-20, 2000
Chicago Premiere
Part of Bailiwick's Pride 2000 Series
Bailiwick Arts Center 
1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, Ill
Performances by Christine Wagner, Julia Turner, Terry L. Butcher, Sharon Greene, Lawrence Johnson, Sarah Martin, Cole Straton and Denise Tamburino
Directed by Shifra Werch.

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