Paula Kimper’s first opera, “Patience and Sarah” was subtitled “a pioneering love story.” Written in collaboration with librettist Wende Persons and based on the historical novel by Isabel Miller, it was also a pioneering opera, depicting a 19th century lesbian couple who settle a farm in upstate New York.
As a composer Kimper didn’t have a deep catalog when she undertook to write the evening-length “Patience.” But the opera was widely hailed when it debuted in the 1998 Lincoln Center Festival and it’s had five subsequent revivals in the U.S. and overseas.
Since “Patience,” there’s been an almost unabated flow of new Kimper operas, mostly based in American history and literature. In 2004 came “The Captivation of Eunice Williams,” and last month in Northampton, Mass. saw the premiere of her fourth opera, “Truth,” based on the life of the abolitionist Sojourner Truth. In the title role was Evelyn Harris, a long-time member of Sweet Honey and in the Rock.
Yet another musical-theater collaboration is coming from Kimper this weekend in New York with “Restless Yearning Towards My Self.” Along with Kimper’s original music, there will be words by poet Perry Brass and choreography by Sasha Spielvogel of Labyrinth Dance Theater. It will be part of a program of Mimi Stern-Wolfe’s Downtown Chamber and Opera Players at St. Marks in the Bowery.