Music by Sheila Silver
Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos
Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini
About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


“Only a few composers in any generation will enliven the art form with their musical language and herald new directions in music. Sheila Silver is such a visionary. “ - Wetterauer Zeitung Germany

“A Thousand Splendid Suns is more than a story of survival in the fact of what seem to be insurmountable odds. It is a story of the unconquerable spirit of a people and individuals seen through the eyes of two indomitable women.” - Contemporary Literature

In a society where women are worse than second class citizens, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two oppressed women, one older, one younger, forced into marriage with the same brutal man. Enemies at first, only through their loving support for one another, are they able to survive and ultimately risk their lives for a chance at freedom. Based on the international best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini and set in Afghanistan from the mid-1970’s to the present era, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a universal story of love, passion, sacrifice and spiritual transcendence.

The opera in two acts is currently being composed for 11 singers and 2 children (or 13 performers). It will be scored for an orchestra of 28-40, including bansuri (bamboo flute) and tabla (Indian drums) and incorporates the use of multi-media including authentic news broadcasts and documentary footage. Silver’s music will be infused with the color of raga based North Indian classical music, which is at the heart of the music of Afghanistan.

Developed and co-commissioned by American Opera Projects with a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works. Libretto commissioned by American Opera Projects with a generous grant from the the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Additional development support provided by the Martha Boschen Porter Fund, a Fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Sheila Silver has received a Guggenheim as well as a 2014 Opera America Discovery Grant for Female Composers (funded by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation) to support the opera.

Seattle Opera recently received a 2017 Opera America Commissioning Grant for Silver (funded by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation) and plans to premiere A Thousand Splendid Suns in Spring, 2020.

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Recipient of a 2013-14 Guggenheim Fellowship, Sheila Silver recently returned from six months in India where she studied Hindustani music, the heart of Afghan music, which she will incorporate into her new opera, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Throughout her career, Silver has had works commissioned and performed by numerous orchestras, chamber ensembles, and soloists internationally. Her recent work, Beauty Intolerable (2013), a songbook based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, premiered in New York and the Hudson Valley last June. Developed with American Opera Projects and The Millay Society, the show included singers Risa Harman, Lauren Flanigan and Deanne Meek, with actresses Tyne Daly and Tandy Cronyn reciting Millay's poetry. Winner of the 2007 Sackler Prize in Music Composition for Opera, she composed the chamber opera, The Wooden Sword, with librettist Stephen Kitsakos. In 2009 they collaborated on another opera, The White Rooster, for women's vocal quartet, Tibetan bowls and percussion. Commissioned by the Smithsonian, it premiered in 2010 at the Sackler-Freer Galleries to celebrate the Tibetan exhibit, In the Realm of the Buddha. Silver's first opera, The Thief of Love, hailed as "music of great beauty" by Howard Smith of Music and Vision, is available on DVD. She is Professor of Music at Stony Brook University.

Stephen Kitsakos is a theatre writer and journalist as well as the author of three opera librettos including the Sackler Prize award-winning The Wooden Sword, The White Rooster: A Tale of Compassion for the
Smithsonian Institution and the adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns all with music by Sheila Silver. His work has often explored the use of sacred texts to inspire contemporary storytelling. A theatre writer member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP and a permanent member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, he is a graduate of New York University. Between 2000 and 2013 he was a member of the faculty of the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz where he served as Asst. Chair of the Theatre Arts Dept. from 2011-2013. He is a contributing writer to the quarterly journal, The Sondheim Review. His novel, The Accidental Pilgrim (February, 2015), the story of a marine biologist and her involvement in a biblical archaeology discovery, is published by ASD Publishing.

Hosseini’s first book, The Kite Runner, published in 2003 became an international bestseller and beloved classic, sold in over 70 countries and spending more than a hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. In May 2007, his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, remaining in that spot for fifteen weeks and nearly an entire year on the bestseller list. Together, the two books have sold more than 10 million copies in the United States and more than 38 million copies worldwide. Hosseini’s third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, was published to acclaim in 2013.

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September 19, 2017 - BROADWAY WORLD
Opera preview: "Powerful Emotions, a Gripping Plot and Two Islamic Heroines Feature in the Novel, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'"

January 7, 2016 - NEW YORK PRESS
Opera preview: "A First Look at New Operas"

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November 19, 2017
Concert reading of Act II
National Opera Center- 330 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Performances by: Maya Lahyani, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Ron Lloyd, Ian McCuen, Matthew Scolin with an ensemble of 7 instruments including Steve Gorn on bansuri, and Jonathan Singer on tablas.
Music Direction: Sara Jobin; Stage Direction: Leslie Swackhamer
Co-presented by AOP and Hudson Area Library

November 18, 2017
Concert reading of Act II
Hudson Area Library- 51 N 5th St, Hudson, NY 12534
Performances by: Maya Lahyani, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Ron Lloyd, Ian McCuen, Matthew Scolin with an ensemble of 7 instruments including Steve Gorn on bansuri, and Jonathan Singer on tablas.
Music Direction: Sara Jobin; Stage Direction: Leslie Swackhamer
Co-presented by AOP and Hudson Area Library

January 13-14, 2016
Concert reading of opera
The Studios of Key West- 533 Eaton St, Key West, FL 33040
Presented by AOP First Chance and The Studios of Key West.

January 18, 2016
Concert reading of excerpts
Trinity Church - 75 Broadway, New York, NY 10006
Presnted by AOP First Chance and OPERA America, in association with NOVUS NY orchestra as part of the OPERA America New Works Forum.

June 1, 2015
Concert Reading of excerpts
National Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Performances by Randall Scarlata, Kendra Broom, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Ian McEuen, Deanne Meek, Vira Slywotzky, Risa Renae Harman, Nicholas Masters.
With Narration by Tandy Cronyn

Music Direction: Sara Jobin; Stage Direction: Leslie Swackhamer

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