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Spring / a chamber opera
Music by Scott Ordway
Text by Meryem Belkaïd

Treatment | Libretto | Piano-Vocal Score Sample

Duration: 75 minutes without intermission
Cast: lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone + optional chorus
Instrumentation: 12 instruments (strings, woodwinds, and brass only)


Spring is a collaboration between American composer Scott Ordway and Tunisian scholar, journalist, and novelist Meryem Belkaïd. The opera, which is told from the perspective of the four ancient winds of North Africa, is based on the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and the ensuing tensions between democracy and chaos, religious freedom and Islamism, activism and terrorism, and peaceful protest and civil war.

Based on first-hand witness accounts, Belkaïd's vibrant polyphonic text explores the psychological realities of life before, during, and after the revolution. Her words capture the polyglot essence of life in North Africa, moving effortlessly between English, French, and Arabic in this intense look at the personal sides of protest, revolution, and political development.

A partial workshop performance was presented by American Opera Projects in New York in September 2018 as part of its Composers and the Voice program.

Spring is currently in development with support from American Opera Projects, the Bates College Department of Music, and the Bowdoin College Department of French and Francophone Literature. 


Audio & Score Samples


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Creative Team

SCOTT ORDWAY is a composer, conductor, and Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Rutgers University best known for his extended works that fuse vocal and instrumental music with original text, video, digital soundscape, and experimental theater. His music has been called “exquisite” by The New York Times, “a marvel” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and “an American response to Sibelius” by The Boston Globe, and has been presented by leading American and international festivals and institutions with current projects in New York, Boston, Paris, Frankfurt, Tucson, and San Antonio.

MERYEM BELKAÏD is a Tunisian scholar, novelist, and journalist. She has written about the Arab Spring for Slate, The Huffington Post, and Mediapart, and taught at the University of Tunis, La Sorbonne, and Bowdoin College, where she is currently Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Literature. Her research and creative work focuses on the literature, cinema, and politics of the Maghreb.