Shining Brow

Music by Daron Aric Hagen

Libretto by Paul Muldoon


“Mr. Hagen has a gift for the Big Tune, and he delivers some beauties in this opera.” – The New York Times

“An intense and pleasurable musical experience…the score may be something of a musical response to the jewel-like tones and intricate patterns in Wright’s signature windows and textiles.”
– Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
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“. . . this self-proclaimed ‘usonian’ version of Shining Brow under the direction of Grant Preisser strips back the façade of the famous architect, revealing his foil and true self beneath. Not a man of harmony or elegant form like that of his homes, but one whose ego is bent on perfect self-actualization and, in the end, self-destruction.”
– Em Skow, DCMetroTheaterArts
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“Under the expert direction of Grant Preisser, this cast of talented stars triumphs the intellectual depth and genuine poignancy of this historical drama. Sidney Outlaw leads the cast as Frank Lloyd Wright, his magnificent tenor voice transfixing the listener with both its subtlety and warmth of tone.”
– Erin Ridge, MD Theatre Guide
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Shining Brow Wright-Cheney duet (longer) from UrbanArias on Vimeo.

Images by Teresa Wood Photography


Shining Brow concerns events that occurred between 1903 and 1914 during the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. Wright’s determination to leave his wife and children, his relationship with Mamah Cheney, and the subsequent murders and conflagration at Taliesin, are all part of the historical record. The opera opens as Wright meets Edwin and Mamah Cheney, who have commissioned him to design their new home. Wright and Mamah begin an affair, and both eventually obtain divorces and remarry each other. But Mamah fears that she will always be secondary to Wright’s obsession with his work – and with himself. Over the course of the opera, we see how Wright’s three principal relationships – with his mentor, Louis Sullivan, his first wife, Catherine, and Mamah – all crumble under the weight of Wright’s ego. The opera takes us to the point at which the home he built for Mamah is consumed by a fire, and she with it. He vows to rebuild that home, Taliesin in Mamah’s memory.


Sidney Outlaw as Frank Lloyd Wright
Miriam Khalil as Mamah Cheney
Rebecca Ringle as Catherine Wright
Ben Wager as Edwin Cheney
Robert Baker as Louis Sullivan

Conducted by Robert Wood
Directed by Grant Preisser
Scenic and Costume Design by Grant Preisser
Lighting Design by Lucrecia Briceno

CLICK HERE to read the libretto of SHINING BROW

UrbanArias gratefully acknowledges the Capitol Hill Community Foundation for its support of Shining Brow.