Abraham in Flames, a Künstleroper by

Niloufar Talebi (Creator/Librettist)

Aleksandra Vrebalov (Composer)

Roy Rallo (Director/Dramaturg)

Produced by Cath Brittan

Residency Week: September 30 -- October 4, 2017

3 public performances:

Oct. 3 at 1:00 (educational thru SF Opera Ed) and 7:30 pm

Oct. 4 at 7:30 pm

Wilsey Center for Opera, San Francisco

401 Van Ness Ave. 4th floor Education Studio


Early Bird Tix: $20 General / $15 under 18

Day of Tix: $25 Genreral / $15 under 18

Abraham in Flames is a new opera by creator/writer Niloufar Talebi, composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, and director Roy Rallo. The opera is inspired by Talebi's coming of age in Tehran around the iconic Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou during his presence in her parents' literary salons, the staggering imagery in Shamlou's life and poetry, the agony and final commitment of Jesus depicted in paintings of the Garden of Gethsemane, Trials by Fire, and the Tree of Life. Abraham in Flames is written for the Young Women’s Choral Projects of SF, soloists including Merola Opera Program singers, and musical ensemble featuring The Living Earth Show. Abraham in Flames is about the history of the love we receive and the immeasurable impact of artistic mentors in our journey to spiritual becoming and quest for our truth.


YWCP (chorus): Girl

BRIAN THORSETT (tenor): Angel


NIKKI EINFELD (soprano): Fear/Doubt

ANDREW METZGER (tenor): Knowing

COLIN RAMSEY (bass): Happiness

Read the Press Release here

I had the immense fortune of coming of age in the years after the 1979 Iranian revolution around the iconic Iranian poet, Ahmad Shamlou, who visited my parents’ literary salons in Tehran. His presence in my life was a defining and disruptive moment that has echoed in immeasurable ways through my life. No ounce of my being has been untouched by him. To grow up around such a towering figure was a gift of love, art, and a brush with the best of what humanity has to offer.

I began translating Shamlou’s poetry several years ago and concurrently meditating upon creating an opera based on or inspired by his work and cinematic life. Over time, the opera has turned into a “Künstleroper,” an opera about the spiritual growth of a young artist, inspired by my own memories and growth into the artist and person that I am. So the opera is written for a girls chorus as the MAIN character, with soloists playing supporting roles to them.

There are many poetic images, biblical stories, anecdotes, personal experiences, and epiphanies that went into the original parable that I wrote as the story of the opera. Some of the materials my collaborators, director Roy Rallo whose vision is for an immersive and emotional theater of archetypes, and composer Aleksandra Vrebalov who is passionate about telling stories of women, and I drew from are illustrated here:

Shamlou’s seminal book of poems, Ebraahim Dar Aatash, which I translate into Abraham in Flames. The title is taken from the story of Abraham surviving unscathed the trial by fire that Nimrod puts him through for not believing in idols. Abraham refuses to ask anything of god even after Arcangel Gabriel appears to offer help. Shamlou’s poems were about and for those who risk everything for their truths. I believe artists and other risk-takers do the same.

Paintings of the events in the Garden of Gethsemane after the last supper and before the crucifixion where Jesus gives himself to his destiny and prays on the Mount of Olives. He is comforted by an angel.

Endless Poetry (Poesía sin Fin), a film by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Tree of Life




MING LUKE (conductor)


RON BORELLI (accordion)


LUCAS CHEN (cello)


The 1:00 pm October 4, 2017 viewing is offered to K-12 students.

It includes a Professional Development sessions for educators

in parternship with the

San Francisco Opera Education Department