Prize for Opera 2019


12 / 08

Denis & Katya

United States
Opera Philadelphia


Opera Philadelphia and its co-commission partners Music Theatre Wales and Operá Orchestre Montpellier will co-produce the World Premiere of DENIS & KATYA, a new chamber opera by British composer Philip Venables and American librettist and stage director Ted Huffman that is inspired by true life events and explores how stories are shaped by our age of 24/7 digital connection.

On November 14, 2016, Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova, fifteen-year-olds in the rural Pskov region of Russia, died after a three-day standoff with Russian Special Forces. They live-streamed their last hours onto internet sites, creating a spectacle of real-time voyeurism and leaving behind a trail of devastating video footage: drinking and smoking, cuddling and crying, and preparing to die. 

Described by Huffman as a “documentary opera,” DENIS & KATYA will feature two singers who will act as narrators and also portray several different characters in the story, with perspectives and stories constantly branching off and leading the audience through a web of discursive narrative strands. The score will be written for an ensemble of four celli. The international creative team will include Russian dramaturg Ksenia Ravvina and French projection designer Pierre Martin in a multimedia production featuring video and sound design.

The World Premiere of DENIS & KATYA will take place in September 2019 at Festival O19, Opera Philadelphia’s annual urban opera festival. To accommodate demand and offer an expanded run of performances, DENIS & KATYA will use double-casting: Opera Philadelphia’s cast of American mezzo-soprano Siena Licht Miller and American baritone Theo Hoffman will be joined by the Music Theatre Wales cast of Australian mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds and a TBD baritone, who will participate in rehearsals for the premiere and perform select performances.

Artistic Team

Composer Philip Venables (United Kingdom)
Librettist and Stage Director Ted Huffman (United States)
Projection Designer Pierre Martin (France)

Venables and Huffman proposed Denis & Katya to the co-commissioning and co-producing partners, and the composer and librettist recommended Martin, who they have collaborated with in the past.

Pierre Martin

Pierre Martin

Video Artist

Co-producing Partners

Music Theatre Wales

United Kingdom


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