Birds in the Moon
Birds in the Moon | Credit: Ashleigh McArthur​​​​​​

Birds in the Moon, a small-scale opera by composer Mark Grey and librettist Júlia Canosa i Serra, has found a home in Santa Monica — though it’s only temporary. The Broad Stage will present the West Coast premiere of the work Sept. 1–4, but then it’s off to more performances across the country.

Maria Elena Altany in Birds in the Moon
Maria Elena Altany in Birds in the Moon | Credit: Erin Baiano

Director Elkhanah Pulitzer and a team of designers have conceived a production that “takes place on a traveling magic box” — really, a shipping container that opens up to make a stage. This movable set (The Broad Stage premiere will be outdoors in a Santa Monica parking lot) captures the wandering spirit of the opera itself.

Migration is the theme of Birds in the Moon, which takes inspiration from a 17th-century theory that when birds flew away for the winter, they went to the moon. The opera’s plot revolves around a Bird Mother (soprano Maria Elena Altany) who wants to help her child make this journey. She thinks a circus Ringmaster (actor Austin Spangler) and his crew of traveling musicians (the Friction Quartet) might be the answer. They sell trips to the moon, but it’s not clear where the entertainment ends and a real journey begins.

Grey and Canosa i Serra’s opera debuted this spring as part of the New York Philharmonic’s Bandwagon initiative — another “musicians on the go” project.

Find tickets for Birds in the Moon, along with logistics for the location and more background on the opera itself, on The Broad Stage’s website.

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