Opera ‘A Marvelous Order’ to make world premiere Oct. 20 in Eisenhower Auditorium

In conjunction, Palmer Museum presents an exhibit of works by opera’s director


The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State will present the world premiere of the contemporary multimedia opera “A Marvelous Order” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

Tickets for the opera—$52 for an adult, $5 for a University Park student, and $40 for a person 18 and younger—are available for purchase online. Tickets are also available by phone at 814-863-0255 or in person, weekdays from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., at Eisenhower Auditorium. Visit “A Marvelous Order” online for more information.

The new opera is presented by ADH Theatricals. It features music by Judd Greenstein, a libretto by former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith, and animation and direction by Joshua Frankel. NOW Ensemble will perform the music.

“A Marvelous Order” chronicles the 1960s-era battle between powerful master builder Robert Moses and determined activist Jane Jacobs over the fate of New York City’s Greenwich Village. When Moses plans to demolish her neighborhood, Jacobs starts a revolt that continues to shape manmade environments around the world—from small towns to global cities—and the lives of all who call them home. An expansive work about power and protest, “A Marvelous Order” examines the ways we live together, who controls our environment and how we respond to abuses of authority.

“We’re in a moment now where questions about cities, urban planning and what gets built and for whom are being recognized more widely as questions of life and death,” Frankel said. “More people are more open to making bigger changes faster. It’s the type of moment that might arrive only once every few generations. The importance of this story only seems to grow.”

The production was conceived as an interdisciplinary collaboration between the three lead artists. In addition to being through-composed, “A Marvelous Order” utilizes animation that integrates the opera’s visuals with its music and poetry. The multi-channel animation appears on screens integrated into the opera’s set—a collection of modular blocks that the ensemble manipulates throughout the performance—building, destroying and rebuilding their environments.

Watch a preview of “A Marvelous Order.”

Related event

In conjunction with the debut of “A Marvelous Order,” the Palmer Museum of Art will host the exhibit, “Every Night We Chase Our Shadows,” featuring a collection of Frankel’s “blueprint” cyanotypes created in parallel with the visual development of the opera. The display will be on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, through Friday, Oct. 21, in the Print Study Room.

Frankel will give a free public artist talk at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21, in the museum. Visit Palmer Museum of Art events for more information.


Elinor C. Lewis and Pieter W. and Lida Ouwehand sponsor the performance.

This presentation is part of “The Reflection Project,” funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Support is provided by the John L. Brown Jr. and Marlynn Steele Sidehamer Endowment; Eisenhower Auditorium Endowment; Sidney and Helen S. Friedman Endowment; and Glenn and Nancy Gamble Endowment.

This project is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

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