Opera Composed by Penn’s Jay Reise Celebrates 10th Anniversary in Russia

Celebrating its 10th year on stage in Russia, an opera composed by University of Pennsylvania music professor Jay Reise will be performed in Moscow’s new Stravinsky Hall this fall.

The performances of Reise’s “Rasputin” by Russia’s Helikon Opera company are scheduled for Nov. 11 and 12 and will be conducted by Alexander Briger, founder and chief conductor of the Australian World Orchestra.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Reise wrote both the music and libretto for “Rasputin,” which was commissioned and premiered by the New York City Opera in 1988 under the late Beverly Sills. Known for his courses on music composition and theory, Reise has been a member of the Penn faculty since 1980.

The opera was given its Russian premiere in Moscow in 2008 by Helikon under the direction of Dmitry Bertman and has been a staple of the company’s repertory ever since. “Rasputin” was first performed in Helikon’s new state-of-the-art Stravinsky Hall in February.

Reise said, “I am very gratified to be celebrating this 10th anniversary of the Helikon Opera’s production of ‘Rasputin.’ Director Dmitry Bertman has created what is for me an ideal rendition that I hope will continue to speak to international audiences.”

The opera has also been presented by Helikon at Opéra Massy in Paris and at the Saaremaa Festival in Estonia. It is one of the few American operas to be produced in Russia.

Music composed by Reise has been performed extensively in the United States and abroad. His work includes a ballet, “The Gift to Urashima Taro,” a concerto for violin and orchestra entitled “The River Within” and a symphonic poem based on Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale “The Selfish Giant.” Many of his works have been recorded, including “The Devil in the Flesh and Other Pieces” featuring pianist Marc-André Hamelin. He is currently at work on an opera called “Al Capone” based on the notorious gangster.

Reise opera Rasputin