Composed by Allen Shearer on a libretto by Claudia Stevens

This riveting story of betrayal, race and real estate transports E. M. Forster’s Howards End from Edwardian England to 1950’s Boston.  With powerful imagery and ravishing music, the opera evokes the atmosphere of an earlier time in America, but a time as divided over race and class as it is today. Audiences will meet two sisters: the kind but cautious Margaret and the younger Helen, an impulsive social activist with camera in hand.  What damage will they cause, and what romantic entanglements will befall them, when they set out to become the patrons of gifted black poet Leonard?

The opera’s premiere in February made headlines! See reviews below.

HOWARDS END, AMERICA features a cast of seven of the novel’s main characters.  In its premiere production they were portrayed by opera luminaries accompanied by a chamber orchestra–Earplay Ensemble and guests–under Earplay’s conductor Mary Chun.  Philip Lowery directed. This first-ever opera on the great Forster novel was a  highlight of Earplay’s 2018-2019 season.  Cast included Nikki Einfeld as Margaret Schlegel, Sara Duchovnay as Helen Schlegel, Philip Skinner as Henry Wilcox,   Michael Dailey as Leonard Bast, Candace Johnson as Jacky Bast, Erin Neff as Ruth Wilcox, and  Daniel Cilli as Charles Wilcox.

Garden party, Act III. Production photos by Jeremy Knight

Acclaim for the San Francisco premiere of Howards End, America 

Operawire, March 4, 2019

“Elegant, thoughtful and persuasive – that is “Howards End, America,” Allen Shearer and Claudia Stevens’ new chamber opera, which just premiered in San Francisco’s Z Space . . . each aspect of the story plumbed its dramatic depth.  Action and character moved the whole together . . . Shearer’s score had everything. Sometimes it seemed like a tap dance, counterpointing the eloquent lyrics Stevens created.  Intimate and powerful . . . with never a false note.  We need more opera at this level that is provocative as well as satisfying.” – Lois Silverstein. Read the full review here

San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 23, 2019
“Operatic ‘Howards End, America’ a refreshing stateside spin on a classic story (headline). . the chamber opera is a fresh, resonant , gripping America take on the classic English novel. ” – James Ambroff-Tahan   Read the whole review here.  

Repeat Performances, Feb 23, 2019
Howards End– a birth and re-birth. “A powerful work of literature was given a new life . . repurposed as the opera Howards End, America by composer Allen Shearer and librettist Claudia Stevens, and it was skillfully done . . their success is pertinent to us:  these are the roots of America’s present-day war on the poor.  Stevens edited Forster’s round phrases into a language that was spare but filled with innuendo, nearly poetic in its simplicity.  Complementing that, Shearer’s composing was rich in its many moods while remaining astringent in its modernity, edgy and atmospheric and all closely knit to the text.  It was riveting and unique and moving, and, surprisingly, there is nothing like that (birth) scene in all of opera.”  – Adam Broner   Read the whole review here
ARTSSF, Feb. 24, 2019

“As opera it is strong, warranting much more exposure . . Shearer has created a compelling and very lyrical three-act work with strong dramatic statements and turns . . stirring arias . . sublime moments”  – Paul Hertelendy   Read the review here

Classical Voice, Feb. 25, 2019 : Howards End, America, a Compelling New Chamber Opera for Modern Times. “An exciting evening of music . . This one was worth seeing!”- Elsa Tranter

Berkeley Times,  March 7, 2019: A triumph of modern opera, Howards End, America . “Berkeley composer Allen Shearer and pianist and librettist Claudia Stevens had a significant triumph in the premiere of their newest opera, Howards End, America.” –Adam Broner

Georgia Rowe, Feb. 27, 2019: “A beautiful opera . . . should have a long life.”




A New Chamber Opera