A Thousand Splendid Suns – The Opera

A Thousand Splendid Suns

In a society where women are treated worse than third class citizens, this opera tells the story of  two oppressed women, one older, one younger, each forced into marriage with the same brutal man. After years of being enemies they grow to love each other like mother and daughter. This bond gives them the strength, in an act of self-defense, to kill their husband. The mother accepts execution so that the daughter can live free.

Based on the international best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, set in contemporary Afghanistan, is a universal story of love, passion, sacrifice and spiritual transcendence.

Music by Sheila Silver
Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos
Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the recipient of an Opera America grant for female composers from The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The composer, Sheila Silver, is one of 8 composers awarded this Discovery Grant.  The opera is being developed in conjunction with American Opera Projects, under the direction of Charles Jarden, whose mission is to develop and present new operatic and music theatre works. Stephen was awarded a commission from AOP through NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts) to begin writing the libretto.

Third Workshop presentation: November 19th, 2017  National Opera Center, New York City 

Second Workshop presentation: January 13th-14th, 2016 The Studios of Key West, Key West, Florida

Audio and Video Excerpts Here:


First Workshop presentation: June 1, 2015 National Opera Center, New York City


Track 1: Act I, scene i: Nana and Mariam, mother and daughter, are arguing in their disheveled hut in the hills outside of Herat. Mariam is convinced that her father will come to take her out for her 15th birthday and Nana tells her she is foolish to expect anything from him, a man who refused to marry Nana, a servant, after he got her pregnant. Nana calls her daughter a “harami” (bastard) and is terrified that Mariam will leave her and go into the town of Herat, where Mariam has never ventured, to find her father who lives in his “fancy” house with his three wives and (legitimate) children. Nana, mentally unstable, fears that she will die if Mariam leaves her.

Track 2: Act I, scene iii: Mariam, alone in her house in Kabul, a few weeks after the above scene. Her mother has died, she’s been married off to a middle-aged shoemaker from Kabul by her father and his wives, and her entire life, as she has known it, is gone. She is now “a stranger in a strange man’s house.” She is terrified of what is to come. She prays to Allah to give her strength.