Music by John Glover

Libretto by Kelley Rourke

Based on the true story of Maurice Temerlin

and the chimpanzee “Lucy” he raised from birth.

Saturday, April 1 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, April 2 at 2 p.m.

Friday, April 7 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m.

CLICK HERE for the Washington Post’s rave review!

Each performance includes an audience talk-back. There will be a 10-minute break after the performance, after which you are invited to ask questions of the cast and creative team.

Tickets are $35 General Admission ($32 for seniors and students)

At Atlas Performing Arts Center

Click here to buy tickets

Special Opening Night Offer: Join us for a toast after the performance! UrbanArias invites you to celebrate LUCY by raising a glass of wine with us. No extra purchase necessary – just buy your tickets to the April 1 performance, and stick around after the talk-back!


Noted primatologist Robert Ingersoll joins us on April 1 and 2 for our audience talk-back! Dr. Ingersoll was featured in the HBO documentary “Project NIM”, about rescuing a chimpanzee from a cross-fostering experiment. He will talk about Maurice Temerlin, Lucy, and other matters related to the opera.



Click here to read the libretto of LUCY

LUCY is produced in part with generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Capitol Hill Community Foundation.

LUCY was commissioned by Milwaukee Opera Theater, world premiere November 7-9, 2014,
and developed by American Opera Projects and Nautilus Music Theater



Andrew Wilkowske as Maurice Temerlin


Robert Wood, conductor

Erik Pearson, director

Michael Locher, set and costume design

Burke Brown, lighting design


Watch an excerpt from the Milwaukee production of LUCY below:


The Scenario

In 1964, psychologist Maurice Temerlin and his wife Jane adopted a day-old chimpanzee to whom they gave the name Lucy. Their intention, wrote Temerlin, was to raise Lucy “as much as possible as though she were a human being.” Temerlin’s account of the experience, Lucy: Growing Up Human, tells how his “daughter” learned to dress herself, eat with silverware, use the toilet, make tea for guests, look at magazines, communicate through sign language, keep a pet of her own, and enjoy cocktails. In addition to considering how Lucy is affected by her “human” upbringing, he reports on how his “unusual daughter” affects the other members of the household, especially himself.

Even with her extensive repertoire of human behavior and her obvious affection for the Temerlins, Lucy remained, biologically, a chimpanzee—an animal of considerable physical strength with relatively limited impulse control. A decade into their experiment, the Temerlins began to look for a way to transfer Lucy out of their household. Eventually they decided that a chimpanzee rehabilitation center in Gambia would provide the best environment for Lucy to live out her remaining years. (Chimpanzees can live up 50 years.) University of Oklahoma psychology graduate student Janis Carter accompanied Lucy to the center to assist her transition, but the process was difficult; Lucy showed many signs of depression, including refusal to eat.

Several years later, Janis Carter returned to the Center and was greeted by Lucy and a group of chimps. After embracing Carter, Lucy left with the other chimps without turning back, which Carter interpreted as Lucy having assimilated to life as a chimp.

One year later, Carter returned and found Lucy’s skeleton with hands missing and head separated from the rest of the body, and no sign of skin or hair. Based on these signs, she concluded that Lucy had fallen victim to poachers.

The Work
Actual events described in Temerlin’s memoir serve as a starting point for Lucy, a fictional memory play in which we meet Temerlin alone in his office, some decades after he made the decision to bring Lucy into his home. As he struggles to hold on to memories of a happy, if unconventional, family life, documentation from the “cross-fostering” project both supports and challenges his efforts.

Lucy is a one-act monodrama for baritone and chamber ensemble. While Lucy’s presence is summoned in sound and story, the baritone is the only live primate in the piece.

More Information
In early 2010, Lucy’s life-story was the subject of a 1-hour Radiolab episode, “Radiolab Show 702 – Lucy”.

You can click this link to listen to the fascinating podcast.


Described as “an unabashedly expressive composer,” (New Yorker) John Glover has created music for concert, opera, dance, and theater. His chamber opera New Arrivals was praised by Broadway World as an “intricate and intriguing score that is easy to lose yourself in emotionally.” He has received commissions from organizations including Houston Grand Opera, New York Youth Symphony, Milwaukee Opera Theater, American Conservatory Theater, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Del Sol String Quartet, Liuh-wen Ting, Amber Sloan Dance, Crossman Dans(c)e, Ensemble Meme, String Noise, and the Five Boroughs Music Festival. His work has been presented in venues including from Rockwood Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Mill City Summer Opera Festival, The Yard, Invisible Dog, the Rothko Chapel, and the Detroit Institute of Art.

John has received numerous awards, fellowships and grants for his music from organizations including New Music USA, Meet The Composer, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Cambodia Living Arts, Cherry Valley Artworks, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Recent projects include Rudiments for multi-tracked voice and dancers at The Yard for Amber Sloan Dance and Tomas Cruz, the multimedia work Snow created with choreographer Jordan Morley for toy-pianist Phyllis Chen, and Frame the Scene, for bass-baritone Davonne Tines and Canite Quartet.

Upcoming performances include the premiere of Squall for Mirror Visions Ensemble, an original score and sound design for the immersive work HERE by choreographer Kelly Bartnik which runs on the Lower East Side beginning in February, and a residency at MANA Contemporary with Amber Sloan. Ongoing projects include Guns n Rosenkavalier, an art song/rock song concert with baritone Andrew Wilkowske, horn quartet Genghis Barbie, and English lyrics by Kelley Rourke. Future projects include a new work for Del Sol String Quartet with Jesse Blumberg investigating photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s role in the Modoc War, and a commission for Milwaukee Opera Theater. Both are collaborations with librettist Rourke. His song cycle Natural Systems, written for the New York Youth Symphony and Evan Hughes was described as a “vivid score ranging from energetic swirls to a gentle, enigmatic conclusion.” (New York Times).

Librettist Kelley Rourke collaborates often with John Glover; their works include the chamber opera Lucy (American Opera Projects, Nautilus Music-Theater, Milwaukee Opera Theater); the orchestral cycle Natural Systems (New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Conservatory); and the rock-recital Guns n’ Rosenkavalier (Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Glimmerglass Festival, Mill City Opera, Rockwood Music Hall). With composer Ben Moore Kelley created a one-hour opera based on Homer’s Odyssey for Glimmerglass. Kelley’s modern English adaptations of classic works have been hailed as “clever, quirky…easy to follow and hard to resist” (The New York Times) and “crackingly witty” (The Independent, London), and have been commissioned and performed by companies including English National Opera, Washington National Opera, Glimmerglass, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Welsh National Opera. Kelley serves as dramaturg for both Glimmerglass and Washington National Opera. Upcoming projects include Wilde Tales (with composer Laura Karpman) for Glimmerglass.


Andrew Wilkowske‘s recent performance of La Rocca in Verdi’s King For a Day at Glimmerglass Festival was called ‘superb’ by The New York Times and “brought impressive command to the text” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Wilkowske will be seen twice at Minnesota Opera this season, first as Geronte in Manon Lescaut, and then as Papageno in The Magic Flute. He will also reprise the role of Ponchel in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night with Cincinnati Opera, a role he created in 2011 with Minnesota Opera, and again in 2013 with Opera Philadelphia. Later this season he will be heard in Carmina Burana with the Billings Symphony and Milwaukee’s Bel Canto Chorus.

Recent engagements include the critically acclaimed rock recital Guns N’ Rosenkavalier, at Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Glimmerglass Festival, a project he created with composer John Glover; Mr. Gedge in Albert Herring with Florentine Opera; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Intermountain Opera Bozeman; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Minnesota Opera; Tonio in I Pagliacci with Mill City Summer Opera; Belcore in L’Elisir D’Amore with Utah Opera; Carmina Burana with the Minnesota Orchestra, under the baton of Osmo Vänksä; and Emperor Overall in the critically-acclaimed production of The Emperor of Atlantis with Boston Lyric Opera.

Widely known for his expertise in modern repertoire, Wilkowske recently sang in the premiere of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals with Skylight Music Theatre. Other recent premieres include Our Basic Nature, by John Glover and Kelley Rourke with American Opera Projects and Nautilus Music Theater; The Grapes of Wrath, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie with Minnesota Opera and Pittsburgh Opera; The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Jonathan Dove and Alastair Miles with Minnesota Opera; and The Fly, by Howard Shore and Henry David Hwang with Los Angeles Opera.

Wilkowske’s escapades as opera’s favorite barber are documented in his award-winning “A Year of Figaro” blog.

Erik Pearson is a Brooklyn based director and projection designer. Recent projects include Spike Lee’s Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth on Broadway/HBO, Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s Old Hats at American Conservatory Theater, John Glover’s new opera Lucy for Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and Hamlet for Allentown Shakespeare In The Park. Other New York credits include Playwrights Realm/Cherry Lane Theater, SoHo Playhouse, Intar, HERE, TerraNOVA, New Dramatists, Lark and Studio NYC. International and regional credits include The Holland International Dance Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth, Two River Theater, Carolina Ballet, El Paso Opera, Ballet Met, The Magic, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, BRAVA!, Marin Theater Company, The Playwrights Center, and Nantucket Theatre Workshop. He has served on the teaching faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz, as a guest lecturer at Yale School of Drama, and as a guest artist at Rutgers University. He currently teaches acting at New York University. Erik is a member of Wingspace Design Collective and holds an M.F.A. in directing from Yale School of Drama.

Conductor Robert Wood founded UrbanArias in 2009. Under his guidance, the company has achieved national recognition as an innovator in the field of opera, and has given over 70 performances in Arlingon, DC, and New York City. He has conducted UrbanArias’ productions of As One (Kaminsky), The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Nyman), After Life, Josephine, and Glory Denied (Cipullo), Before Breakfast (Pasatieri), Blue Viola and The Filthy Habit (Hilliard), Paul’s Case (Spears), and Three Decembers (Heggie).

Maestro Wood made his debut with the San Francisco Opera in 2004 with Verdi’s La traviata, and has also conducted L’italiana in Algeri and several concerts there.. He recently conducted Orpheus and Euridice at the Vermont Opera Project, Three Decembers at Kentucky Opera, Die Fledermaus at Hawaii Opera Theater, and Roméo et Juliette and Carmen at Opera Colorado.

Mr. Wood was appointed Conductor in Residence at the Minnesota Opera from 2006-2008, leading productions of L’italiana in Algeri, Le nozze di Figaro, La donna del lago, Rusalka, and Il barbiere di Siviglia. Mr. Wood has also conducted L’italiana in Algeri at Vancouver Opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Hawaii Opera Theater, The Love for Three Oranges at Indiana University Opera Theater, La cenerentola at Opera New Jersey, and The Nutcracker for San Francisco Ballet. Mr. Wood’s collaborations with the Wolf Trap Opera Company include Le Comte Ory and Die Zauberflöte.