This is a past event

The Onion, a new sci-fi opera based on a machine that allows a person to relive a memory as a visceral reality, will be given a workshop performance.

The semi-staged performance of the opera’s first half will be followed by a conversation with composer/librettist Eric Sawyer and director/librettist Ron Bashford. Seating is limited. Reservations are encouraged and can be made through a link at

The opera unfolds on an island in the Pacific Northwest where a neuroscientist has sequestered herself with her daughter, her co-inventor and their invention, the Onion. Rounding out the singing roles are her ex-partner, summoned in memory by both mother and daughter, and the Onion itself, which seems to gain its own personality with each use.

Sawyer, a music professor at Amherst College, and Bashford, a theater professor at Amherst, have previously joined forces in The Scarlet Professor (with librettist Harley Erdman), which received the 2019 American Prize for best opera, as well as in My Evil Twin, a cabaret musical (with script by Harley Erdman), currently receiving performances across the Northeast.

The cast includes vocalists of international reputation as well as local roots. Sopranos Dana Lynne Varga and Corrine Byrne both hold degrees in vocal performance from the University of Massachusetts. Varga has also been faculty at UMass and sang recent debut performances as a soloist at Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Symphony Hall. Byrne also recently made her Carnegie solo debut and maintains a busy schedule of opera roles and early music performances across the United States, while chairing the voice department at Longy School of Music of Bard College. David Small, baritone, continues a vibrant 40-year career in which he has performed 70 different opera roles in nearly 60 operas nationally and internationally. David Thomas Mather, an emerging baritone with rare versatility, appears in performances across opera, art song, early music and musical theater. Countertenor Ifeanyi Epum has received the Kingsley Inupe Idegun Award for countertenors and brings to the role of the Onion specialties in early music, oratorio and the modern compositions of Nigeria.

Contact Info

Eric Sawyer
(413) 542-2018
Please call the college operator at 413-542-2000 or e-mail if you require contact info