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Watch the workshop reading recorded at the National Opera Center in 2019!

The Woman in Penthouse A

A short opera for female voice


Bb clarinet

Prerecorded Santoor


Duration: approx. 30 minutes


Libretto:  Stephen Kitsakos




The well-appointed living room of a penthouse apartment in a leafy, upscale
neighborhood of Istanbul. The present.




Fatima Bakshlevi (sung by soprano or mezzo-soprano) is an international socialite and power broker. She is atractive, middle aged and wearing her most elegant finery.



Mrs. Bakshlevi welcomes a well-known journalist (unseen to audience) to her apartment in the hopes that an interview will score her some favorable press while she is being pursued by the authorities for a series of fraudulent schemes on some American investors. She begins to tell what she calls "her side of the story," clearly articulating that the truth is always a moving target and that lies are nothing more than one's own version of what we need to control.

Through a convoluted but witty suite of stories, she explains her origins as the daughter of an Iranian scientist who was forced to flee with the Shah's entourage; her eventual marriage in Turkey with a man who rose to high diplomatic office; her divorce and relocation to New York where she eventually is embraced by the conoscenti and her subsequent marriage to an American businessman. She underscores all her adventures with a spirit of survival and endurance, constantly dropping names of celebrities in fashion, entertainment, business as well as world leaders.

Somewhere along the journey her stories start crashing in on her. Is she authentic? Is she telling us the truth? She describes the crime she has been accused of and promptly dismisses it explaining that "we all need to do what we do to survive." She fears extradition and has reached out to a number of friends, including Yoko Ono, whose telephone call interrupts the interview. We quickly glean that her friend, Yoko, has everything under control as Mrs. Bakshlevi says "thank you" in perfect Japanese and the opera ends.

Please contact the composer via the Contact Page to purchase a full score and parts and/or the PV score.


Screenshot courtesy of Florida Studios' production starring Vira Slywotsky