Giver of Light

Music & Libretto by Adam Roberts

Directed by Andrew Eggert

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World Premiere - May 23, 2013 by Guerilla Opera

“… ATTRACTIVELY KINETIC score … VIBRANT… Guerilla Opera as a company ... seemed to be exactly where it should be: bringing a FRESHLY AMBITIOUS new chamber opera into the world with PLUCK AND STYLE.” (The Boston Globe)



Giver of Light is inspired by the real life events of the 13th-century Sufi mystic poet, Rumi, whose life was forever changed after an encounter with the wandering mystic, the Shams of Tabriz. When Shams disappeared, Rumi spiraled into a deep sorrow, giving birth to much of the poetry we know today. Roberts’ reimagination of this story in the present-day American Midwest breaks down and explores our various assumptions about what love is, who it can be between and how intimately linked it is to sexuality.

The opera follows John, a successful and socially conscious family man who seemingly has it all, but is troubled by a nagging emptiness that gnaws at his soul. When John encounters a mystic—who is also his son’s school bus driver—his world is turned upside down and he pursues a friendship. But soon enough, John’s wife grows suspicious of his relationship and sets off a series of events that question the mystic’s integrity and forces John to make a decision that could forever change his life.



Adam Roberts writes music that takes listeners on compelling sonic journeys while drawing on a vivid array of sonic resources. Roberts’ music has been recently performed by ensembles such as the Arditti Quartet, the JACK Quartet, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Callithumpian Consort, Earplay, andPlay duo, Transient Canvas, Ums ‘n Jip, Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble, the Association for the Promotion of New Music, violist Garth Knox, Guerilla Opera, and at festivals such as Wien Modern (Vienna), Tanglewood, the Biennale Musique en Scene (Lyons), and the 2009 ISCM World Music Days (Sweden).

Roberts is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is the recipient of a Fromm Foundation Commission, the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the Bernard Rogers Prize (Eastman), the New York Bohemians Prize (Harvard), the André Chevillion-Yvonne Bonnaud Prize from the Orléans Piano Competition, the Earplay Donald Aird Award, the Christoph and Stefan Kaske Fellowship from the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Leonard Bernstein Fellowship from the Tanglewood Music Center, the Bldodgett Prize (Harvard), and other awards. Commissions have come from the Callithumpian Consort, the Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble, pianist Nolan Pearson, the Tanglewood Music Center, Guerilla Opera, and others.

Roberts’ music has been called “a powerful success,” “arresting,” and “amazingly lush,” (theBoston Musical Intelligencer), “an attractive mix of the familiar and exotic,” and “otherworldly” (Boston Classical Review), and “invigorating” with a “persistent melodic urge” (American Academy of Arts and Letters citation).

Roberts obtained a Bachelor’s degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music in 2003 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010. Roberts also studied at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna from 2007-2008 on a Harvard University Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. Roberts’ primary teachers have included David Liptak, Augusta Read Thomas, Julian Anderson, and Chaya Czernowin. Roberts has taught at Harvard University, Northeastern University, Istanbul Technical University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Music, and the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music.