Opera Librettist

Swimming in the Dark

Opera in Two Acts with Music by Martin Hennessy. Adapted from the novel by Tomasz Jedrowski.

5 principal singers, 4 others doubling, chamber ensemble of Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet doubling Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn in F, Trumpet in Bb, Percussion (1 player), Piano & Synthesizer (1 player), String Quintet. Publisher: Maisie Light Music.

First Workshop of Act One excerpts at the Jacobs School of Music, Ballet & Opera Theater at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN under the direction of Michael Shell, Resident Stage Director.

Adapted from the international bestselling novel by Tomasz Jedrowski, and named a top 20 LGBTQ book for 2020 by NPR, The Guardian, O Magazine, Publishers Weekly & the New York Review of Books, Swimming in the Dark is an opera about choice and political freedom. Set in Poland in 1980, it is an opera about a consuming love affair engulfed by a political thriller in a country being torn apart. At its center is a story of two young men, Ludwig and Janusz, who meet one summer after graduating from college and bond over their discovery of the American novelist James Baldwin’s seminal work of gay & bisexual literature, Giovanni’s Room. A a tale of subversion, entrapment and identity set against the beauty and rapture of the Polish countryside at the rise of the Solidarity movement.

Why is it important to tell this story? Because it takes place in Poland, a nation where Polish president, Andrzej Duda recently commented that “LGBT ideology is even more destructive than Communism” and where many regions of Poland have declared themselves LGBT-free zones in 2019. It already foreshadows what is happening in many parts of the U.S. including many states already hostile to LGBTQ Americans.

Historical Images of Poland, 1980