David Bachman Photography

Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
February 20, 23, 26, 28
Various times

Many Pittsburghers don’t know that renowned American writer Gertrude Stein was born at 850 Beech Avenue on the North Side in 1874, in what was then Allegheny City. Now, area residents and opera fans alike can explore the larger-than-life legacy of the pioneering novelist, poet, playwright and feminist in the Pittsburgh premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s new opera, 27.

Pittsburgh Opera
Pittsburgh Opera

Named for the apartment at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris where Stein lived with her life partner of 40 years, Alice B. Toklas, the unique opera spans a historical time period from pre-WWI through post-WWII. Through the eyes of Toklas, who sits in the couple’s living room knitting together memories and giving them new life, opera-goers will get a humorous and touching snapshot of Stein—who was a major catalyst in the development of modern art and literature.

It’s the early 20th century in Paris, the avant-garde scene is thriving and Stein’s salon is visited by her renowned peers of painters, writers and photographers. In 27, audiences meet everyone from Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemingway, to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Man Ray, as the cultural figures share work, stories and ideas at the couple’s bustling residence.

David Bachman Photography
David Bachman Photography

The unique opera also touches upon the ravages of a city during war-time, the enduring love between Gertrude and Alice, familial bonds and the creative process.

Featuring a tuneful score composed by Carnegie Mellon graduate Ricky Ian Gordon and a witty libretto by Royce Vavrek, 27 is conducted Mark Trawka and directed by Jennifer Williams. Recreating the spirit of a mid-20th-century Parisian salon, the opera’s music will feature two pianos, and will include a mix of jazz, vaudeville and American Musical Theater influences.

Starring as Gertrude Stein is Laurel Semerdjian, while Adelaide Boedecker plays Alice Toklas. The production also features Adam Bonanni (Pablo Picasso), Brian Vu (Leo Stein) and Matthew Scollin (Ernest Hemingway).

Don’t miss the chance to meet the creators, cast and crew of 27 at several behind-the-scenes events. Enjoy a pre-show talk and post-show reception on February 20th with composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Royce Vavrek, and a post-show “Meet the Artists” event on February 23rd, where General Director Christopher Hahn will interview the stars of 27.

The production is part of Pittsburgh Opera’s third “Second Stage” series, which showcases its Resident Artists at the organization’s headquarters in the Strip District.

Purchase tickets.

Looking for more events? Read our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in February feature.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.